Michael McDonald at the Wellmont Theater.
Michael McDonald made a stop in Montclair on July 13 as a part of his North American tour, dazzling audiences with his soulful voice and enchanting piano playing.
McDonald’s career began in the mid 1970s, when he joined the prolific American rock group Steely Dan, singing both leading and backing vocal parts with the band on tour. In addition to touring with Steely Dan, McDonald also made appearances on subsequent studio releases, thus making him an integral member of the exceedingly successful group. McDonald additionally joined The Doobie Brothers in 1975, fronting the group with his deep, soothing baritone voice. He was originally enlisted as a temporary replacement singer, but the band quickly took notice about how much McDonald had to offer and the undeniable improvements he made to the band’s overall sound. In addition to singing vocals, he played keyboard for the group, composing very impressive and complex parts which worked perfectly with the pyrotechnic magic executed by Jeff Baxter. McDonald was able to bring in his R&B, soul and jazzy elements, lifting the band out of soft rock rut and propelling them into a new era.
Michael McDonald’s solo career took off in 1982 with the release of If That’s What It Takes. In addition to being a strong vocalist and a highly-trained keyboardist, McDonald is a skilled writer, composer and producer. He has collaborated on numerous occasions with Kenny Loggins, who has co-written on some of McDonald’s most successful releases, like “I Gotta Try.”
Michael McDonald has won five Grammy Awards, including awards for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus, Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. McDonald earned two Grammy Awards for his album Motown, which was a tribute to the treasured and timeless Motown sound of the 1960s.
Those in attendance at the Wellmont were unable to refrain from dancing as McDonald, accompanied by a full band and a lovely backup singer, performed to the best of their abilities—demonstrating how their music has continued to hold a special place in the hearts of many. The musicians supporting McDonald were extremely talented at their respective instruments, and the female vocalist’s stunning voice was an exceptional adjunct to McDonald’s, captivating audiences and causing eruptions of applause from those in attendance. Some of the highlights of the night were hearing a rendition of The Doobie Brothers’ hit single “Takin’ It Back to the Streets” and “On My Own,” originally with McDonald supporting the wonderful Patti LaBelle. He additionally covered songs by Kenny Loggins, Marvin Gaye, James Ingram and Burt Bacharach.
“Over the years, McDonald has never ever disappointed me. I screamed when I heard him do a rendition of ‘On My Own,’” said Lisa Kerlop, who commuted from Manhattan to attend the show with friends.
Michael McDonald, whose career has spanned for 40 years, has always delivered soulful and rhythmic jazz-inspired music reminiscent of the greats of yesteryears—while giving it his own soulful and creative spin. The Motown sound lives on in Michael McDonald, who has not only dedicated time to paying homage to the greats of the past, but continuing its legacy through his work.