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Michael McDonald is one of the greatest blue-eyed soul singers of his generation. No, the former Doobie Brother doesn't sound particularly black, or particularly like anyone really. His singing--resembling something like a hyperventilating goat, albeit a really soulful one--is utterly unique. Though McDonald has become something of a punch line in recent years thanks to movies like Knocked Up and the terribly unfunny "Yacht Rock" skits on YouTube—for someone who grew up on the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, and Warren G.'s "Regulate," McDonald's music is catnip. So when the boomer music icon came to Pier Six to close out the Inner Harbor venue's summer season, the family packed up some sandwiches and camped out across the water at Pier Seven to hear McDonald sing the soundtrack of our lives, no ironic detachment required. The night began inauspiciously with opening act Dylan McDonald and the Avians, who the cynical among us might suspect got the gig because he's the headliner's kid. (In fairness, Michael's hardly the only aging rock star engaged in nepotism these days. See also: Sting's son opening for the Police this summer, or Van Halen about to tour with Eddie's brood in the band.) In any case, Dylan's band was pleasantly twangy enough, even if his dad's pipes did apparently skip a generation. Once the elder McDonald hit the stage, it was all hits, starting off with three from his late '70s/early '80s heyday, including the classic "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)." For the most part, though, the hits weren't his own: He focused on the current phase of his career, interpreting Motown classics--he's recorded two albums of the label's material in recent years. And while there's nothing wrong with hearing a good singer with a competent band run through deathless songs such as "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," McDonald's slick takes weren't a patch on the originals. But cover albums and Christmas albums--of which he's also recorded two--seem to be his bread and butter these days, and even when he announced that he was about to play a "new song," it was really just a Ray Charles cover he'd recorded for his next album. Thankfully, McDonald eventually got back to what he does best: knocking Doobie hits like "What a Fool Believes" out of the park. And all was well with the rendition of "Takin' It to the Streets" that closed out the encore until the end of the first chorus, when McDonald let one of his female backup singers hijack the remainder of one of his signature tunes. We're not wild about Michael McDonald tackling the Motown catalog, but there's absolutely no one else we want to hear sing a Michael McDonald song.

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