August 6, 2003
Chastain Park Amphitheatre - Atlanta
Michael McDonald performed a solid, satisfying set to the half-capacity crowd on this balmy summer evening. For every song, he played keyboard confidently, never moving from his seat but pouring heart and soul into his distinctive vocals.
Sure, he performed Doobie Brothers hits like It Keeps You Running and What A Fool Believes and his biggest solo hits Sweet Freedom and I Keep Forgetting. The surprise was that he also performed a slew of classic Motown hits.
Usually this kind of retro review is a sign of an artist having given up as they coast off into their own memories, but McDonalds voice is custom made for these songs. He actually did justice to I Heard It Through The Grapevine and You Are Everything as if he had written them himself.
Apparently, the walking definition of blue-eyed soul is now signed to Motown and these do overs are his tribute to their legacy. He closed out his show with an energetic and fun Takin It To The Streets.
The Neville Brothers had a more varied set thanks to the differences between band/family members. They started out meandering through indistinguishable songs like any old jam band, but their individual personalities quickly became apparent.
Aaron Neville was the soulful crooner, emoting with a pained expression through songs like his classic Tell It Like It Is, while keyboardist Ivan was the funky Neville, rousing the crowd into stomping along for Let A Woman Be A Woman.
Horn player Charles was the jazzy Neville, inspiring couples to dance to his sultry, New Orleans style sax interpretation of Besame Mucho. And the percussionist Cyril was the Rasta Neville, leading the audience through a cover of Bob Marleys Redemption Song.
Cyril took over the controls late in the evening, proclaiming Were gonna aim this one right at your belly button before launching into Just For The Funk Of It. People shoved candlesticks and champagne glasses aside to dance on their tables. Tipitinas even gave soccer moms the funk.
For the fitting last song, Mardis Gras, the hyper-enthusiastic cowbell player abandoned his instrument and strutted to the front of the stage while waving a giant fringed parasol. He proceeded to shake his booty with everything he had as the uproarious crowd attempted to join in. The Neville Brothers may have begun by wandering like a Bourbon Street drunk, but they ended right on the money.