Chicago and The Doobie Brothers Hit Bethel Woods

Written by on June 27, 2008

Although this board generally focuses on New Wave, Alternative pop and similar types of music, there was some great other music out there. Much of that comes from bands who were huge in the 1970s whose musicianship led them to be loved in the 80s and, in many cases, still today. Two of those bands are touring and they will be at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Sullivan County, NY this Sunday night: Chicago and the Doobie Brothers.

By the time the 1980s came around, Chicago lost the horn section that defined their sound for the many albums before. They still had horns for live shows, but their studio work featured more keyboards into the 80s. In fact, after the success of their comeback album, “Chicago 16,” the first release from their next album, “Chicago 17,” was something of a new wave-inspired synth-pop tune complete with a well-produced video: “Stay the Night.”

While the likes of me took well to the mix of jazz/rock and synth, one of my old radio bosses called it their “worst hit song.” After that track, however, the Peter Cetera-led ballads re-defined the band into an Adult Contemporary/CHR crossover in the studio while still satisfying their classic fans with the great music from the earlier years. Chicago’s biggest impact on the 80s were their videos from “17” and their chart-toppers. This, however, underscored their musicianship that was the focal point in the first 14 of their offerings.

While I thought the late 80s post-Cetera single “Look Away” was wimpy enough to kill the band, they had proven me quite wrong as they are still touring and playing the classic tunes for their fans, who span the 60s, 70s and 80s eras.

The Doobies had a lesser impact on the 1980s than they did in the mid-to-late 70s, but they were the kind of soul/rock band that led the next generation of such musicians to come out after the 70s, where the band dominated the pop and soul charts. Might there have been room for even the soul-base New Wavers like Dexy’s Midnight Runners (early years) or U2 without American audiences and music people remembering the Doobies and some others?

Their biggest early 80s hit was “Real Love” in 1980. They had more Top 100 singles through 1983. Also, those of us who were youngsters watching “What’s Happening” reruns will always remember the episode where some bootlegger tried to sucker Rerun into illegally recording their concert.

The Doobie Brothers also made a comeback without losing their rock/soul roots in 1989 with the album “Cycles” that produced the hit “The Doctor” (US #9). Former brother Michael MacDonald became a hugely successful soul-pop singer throughout the 80s as well.

The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, as the site for the famous Woodstock rock festival, has evolved into a superb complex, with an amphitheater/pavilion and a full grounds that enhances the concert-going experience that arenas can not give the listener. In addition, the facility offers membership plans for those who wish to attend multiple concerts. People who come early to the concert on Sunday night can enjoy the official Woodstock Museum there that opened up earlier this year.

To purchase tickets to see Chicago and The Doobie Brothers, go to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts website here.

Reader's opinions
  1. Lolly   On   June 27, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    I saw Chicago & the Doobies at DTE in Clarkston, MI on June 21. The encore with combined groups performing 6 songs, alternating Chicago hits with Doobies hits was worth the price of admission to anyone who remembers and likes both of these bands. It was awesome. Both bands sounded great. The horn section of Chicago sounded as good as ever. Ditto Tom Johnston.

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