By Victoria L. Dammer

Morristown was abuzz with insane traffic, packed restaurants, and pedestrians everywhere when Grammy Award-winning The Doobie Brothers brought their 50th Anniversary Tour to the Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC) for two-night sold-out performances.

The American rock band, which started in 1970, delivered a combination of rock, country, R&B, and a hint of soul and other musical genres in the evening’s music line-up. The group played in an electrifying presentation for two hours and twenty minutes, with the audience in a frenzy of joy.

Since the band opened on time, as posted on the MPAC’s website, and you wouldn’t want to miss a moment of this once-in-a-lifetime tour, don’t be late at any future venue. Michael McDonald, who joined the band in 1975 as the keyboard and second lead vocalist, wowed the crowd with a song he wrote Here to Love With, with a predominate sax accompaniment by Marc Russo. McDonald’s voice is powerful and husky, yet smooth as ever, and his hands banged the keyboards with lightning speed.

Depending on You also had heavy sax and electric guitar by ever the showman John McFee, with lead vocalist and guitarist Pat Simmons reminding us they call McDonald “Mandolin Mike.” McDonald was featured in You Belong to Me, from The Doobie Brothers’ 7th studio album, and made famous by Carly Simon. Russo’s saxophone was wailing and growling to this Doobie tune that hit the Pop Singles Chart at number 79 in 1983.

Simmons conversed with the crowd, welcoming McDonald back, claiming “they had to stay in touch because we were neighbors.” The audience openly appreciated the reunion by clapping loudly. Simmons introduced bass and vocal player John Cowan, Marc Quinones on percussion, Ed Toth on the drums, and McFee and Russo, and the band received its first standing ovation.

The group played the regular album cut South City Midnight Lady and some radio mega hits Rockin’ Down the Highway, Minute by Minute, and What a Fool Believes. The crowd noise was at a low hum more than halfway through the concert; by the time The Doobie Brothers sang Jesus is Just Alright, the audience was in uncontrolled excitement and on their feet for the rest of the night.

China Grove was the final set song, not to be undersold by the encore #1 Billboard Hot 100 Hits Black Water. Simmons wrote this song back in the 70s, a tune he claims arose from his time listening to southern music in New Orleans and featured the violin and fiddle.

McDonald and Russo excited the crowd even further with an approximately three-minute music-only duet, segueing into another hit Takin’ It to the Streets. We witnessed an explosive jam session on Pretzel Logics, the finale so great the audience’s roar was deafening.

The Doobie Brothers 50th Anniversary Tour runs for two hours nationwide and in Canada through October 2023.

The Mayo Performing Art Center, 100 South Street, Morristown, NJ 07960. Tickets to events are available at The Official Ticketing Site of Mayo Performing Arts Center | Mayo Performing Arts Center (