INDEPENDENCE TWP. — The Doobie Brothers’ Patrick Simmons is hardly the fi rst classic rocker to tell a DTE Energy Music Theatre crowd that the venue “will always be Pine Knob.” But he has more right to than most.
Dating back to their ’70s heyday, the Doobies are a perennial at the amphitheater — often for multinight stands. The group renewed that association Tuesday with the fi rst of two shows at DTE, a 90-minute exhibition in sweltering heat that showed that the group hasn’t lost a step in the intervening years, and perhaps has become a bit more daring.
After all, the easy thing for the Doobies would have been to roll out the hits and nothin’ but, pleasing the fi rst-night crowd of just over 5,600 with enduring favorites such as “China Grove,” “Black Water,” “Long Train Runnin’,” “Listen to the Music,” the “American Idol” repopularized “Takin’ it to the Streets,” and the Motown staple “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While).” They did play all those, but the set leaned mostly on more obscure material, the album tracks that not only displayed the Doobies’ depth, but also gave them more room to play.
So there was “Down in the Track,” featuring Simmons trading guitar solos with cofrontman Tom Johnston and John McFee on slide. The Simmons-sung “This Train I’m On” took the Doobies in a gospel direction, while Johnston’s “Rainy Day Crossroad Blues” was a Bayou-fl avored jaunt. Simmons and McFee teamed for the ringing, Hawaiian slack-key instrumental “Five Corners,” and all eight musicians got a chance to carry the ball on a long and lusty version of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me to Talkin’.”
Given the relatively slight length of the show, a few more hits would have made for a spicier performance — “Another Park, Another Sunday,” perhaps, instead of the cover of the pop trifl e “Itty Bitty Pretty One.” But the group’s soaring musicality won the night and made it seem just like — if not a little better than — old times.
The Doobie Brothers perform again at 7:30 Wednesday (August 2nd) at the DTE Energy Music Theatre. Tickets are $34.50 pavilion, $10 lawn. Children 12 and under get free lawn tickets with ticket-holding adult. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit
Send your thoughts and comments to