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The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap(2004)
No synopsis for The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap.
For more about The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap and the The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap Blu-ray release, see the The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on June 5, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons
» See full cast & crew
The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, June 5, 2013
No, this isn't a new version of "Where's Waldo?"
Lots of bands have undergone personnel and even format changes, but few have morphed as dramatically as The Doobie Brothers. As I discussed in our Let the Music Play: The Story of the Doobie Brothers Blu-ray review, the band had two distinct identities which were aptly personified by the putative leaders of those two sounds, Tom Johnston and Michael McDonald, who was hired to replace an ailing Johnston short term, but who ended up giving the band a popular rebirth and new identity. It's hard to know what exactly some fans who attended this 2004 concert recorded at Wolf Trap National Park in July 2004 may have thought when only the Johnston iteration of the band performed. Michael McDonald has radically reinvented the Doobie Brothers sound, and while this concert makes at least a polite nod or two toward McDonald's contributions, there's nary a word about the distinctive vocalist whose "blue eyed soul" exemplified the second iteration of The Doobie Brothers.
If you need a near perfect sonic analog to the difference between the Johnston and McDonald eras of The Doobie Brothers, look (or listen) no further than the sound effect starting out this concert: it's the roar of motorcycle engines throttling. If this had been a McDonald centric performance, one might expect to hear the smooth crooning of a Detroit sports car engine, preferably one housed in a convertible meant to be traveling up the Pacific Coast Highway on a cloudless summer day. But what becomes immediately apparent during this Wolf Trap concert is just how vibrantly alive The Doobie Brothers were during the Johnston years, and indeed, how boisterous they've remained.
Those motorcycle sounds make a perfect segue to "Rockin' Down the Highway", and in fact this concert is much more of a rock outing (tinged with a pinch of the blues and some swamp boogie) than the more soul oriented McDonald probably would have offered. Johnston sounds amazingly fluid, showing little signs of recurrent health problems which had in the past largely removed him from being an active Doobie Brothers and which would shortly in the future create even more problems for him. Johnston may frankly not have the charisma of McDonald, but he is a powerhouse vocalist in his own right, and his exemplary songwriting abilities have perhaps been unfairly eclipsed by McDonald's huge hits which defined the latter half of The Doobie Brothers' heyday.
There's another bit of unfairness lurking in the long and varied history of The Doobie Brothers, one that ironically continued through both the Johnston and McDonald eras, namely the way that co-founder Pat Simmons sometimes never really got the credit he deserved. Simmons is often front and center during this concert, offering as many interstitial comments as Johnston does, and taking lead vocals quite a bit of the time. Johnston in fact attempts (semi- successfully) to fill McDonald's soaring vocal shoes (so to speak) in "Takin' It To The Streets", though in a perhaps unwitting nod to just how overwhelming McDonald's vocal chops really were, it actually takes two guys to pull off the song (the other vocalist is bassist Skylark).
The band sounds really fantastic throughout this concert (though I personally could have lived without the synth-violin on "Black Water", a choice which frankly to my ears sounds more like a cat yowling than a string instrument). The backup vocals, always one The Doobie Brothers' most defining elements (in both of the superstar epochs), are absolutely gorgeous throughout this concert, beautifully layered and crisp and well defined.
The Wolf Trap set list contains:
The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Eagle Vision (an imprint of Eagle Rock Entertainment) with an AVC encoded 1080i transfer in 1.78:1. Thanks the normal lighting scheme for one of the sharpest, best defined concert videos that has been released lately. With none of the usual lighting overkill, especially the tendency to bathe things in blue and red, The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap boasts an often spectacularly sharp and nicely detailed image. Colors are nicely saturated and very accurate looking, even the edges of the stage are decently lit, meaning shadow detail remains strong across the stage, and coverage offers copious close-ups where fine detail pops quite well. The interlaced presentation offers few if any combing artifacts.
One kind of odd thing about the authoring of this disc is the little thumbnails of band members that show up in the lower left hand corner of the image (see screenshot 3 for a good example). There are no real "instructions" as to what these thumbnails mean, but pressing your Pop Up Menu allows you to access branching interviews about the songs that are being performed.
The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap features two fantastically vivid sounding mixes, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround offering an an LPCM 2.0 stereo offering. The 5.1 mix is one of the liveliest recreations of a live concert setting in recent memory, nicely capturing the ambient environment of the performance space while never sacrificing the immediacy of the vocals and instruments. The mix of vocals and instruments is largely impeccable, especially with regard to the lush backups, which are full and cohesive but also quite clear so that individual lines can be discerned. The rhythm section really cooks on the 5.1 track, aided by some smart separation, and on the tunes with horns, there's even more punch and impact.
The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap may not be the entire Doobie Brothers story, but it's a really fun and musically brilliant tour through some of the band's best material. One of the great ironies of The Doobie Brothers' history is how the early days were kind of shunted off to the sidelines once Michael McDonald came on board, and so it's nice to revisit some of those storied early hits, especially since there's such camaraderie between Johnston and Simmons especially. This live concert is further aided by some great supporting musicians, and a superior video and audio presentation. Highly recommended.
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The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap Blu-ray - May 9, 2013
Independent distributors Eagle Rock Entertainment has officially announced that it will bring to Blu-ray The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap. The release will be available for purchase online and in stores across the United States on May 17th.
The Doobie Brothers Live at Wolf Trap Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
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