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The Leeuwin Concert - Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs
WA News / Michael Wilson The Leeuwin Concert - Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs

The Leeuwin Concert - Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs

Leeuwin Estate Winery

Donning a tuxedo that had mysteriously shrunk since it was last worn several years ago, we joined the top end of town at the annual Leeuwin Concert down in picturesque Margaret River for some fine wine, baby boomer bonhomie and smooth tunes.

And they don't come much smoother than Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs; two American gents with voices silkier than vintage champagne and barely a hit between them since Leeuwin launched its concert series in 1985.

So, it was back to the 70s for the 6500 attending, a time when blue-eyed soul was all the rage and those penguin suits sat more comfortably across the mid-section.

With his white hair making him look like Colonel Sanders, former Steely Dan and Doobie Brothers singer-keyboardist Michael McDonald mixed Motown classics among his old hits.

The Doobies' It Keeps You Running was an early favourite, along with the super smooth I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near) and the 1985 James Ingram collaboration Yah Mo B There.

The old Ray Charles easy-listening classic You Don't Know Me was delivered in understated style, apart from McDonald's Farnham-esque molesting of vowels, before he unveiled an apt cover of I Heard it Through the Grapevine. Another welcome Motown cover, even though incredibly bleached, was Ain't No Mountain High Enough.

A trio of late 70s Doobie Brothers classics broke through the chardonnay barrier, starting with Minute by Minute with the Grammy award-winning What a Fool Believes (written with 80s soundtrack king Kenny Loggins) prompting the first dance of the evening. Takin' it to the Streets brought it all home, although most probably knew the 1976 hit from the bit on The Footy Show where Sam Newman makes fun of bogans. McDonald's yacht rock was appealing, not least for the work from guitarist Bernie Chiaravalle and singer-drummer Yvette "Baby Girl" Preyer.

Back to remind us that Silk Degrees aren't something you earn from Fashion University, Boz Scaggs didn't so much hit the Leeuwin stage as slide on with mellow offerings such as Allen Toussaint's Hercules and his own Slow Dancer - both released back in 1974.

The 65-year-old, who owns a winery in California's Napa County, delivered Georgia and the R&B favourite Lowdown in his syrupy voice, the guitar lines barely cutting through the cheesy arrangement.

The biggest reaction from the crowd came when singer Ms Monet took over to unleash her soulful wail on Until You Come Back to Me, made famous by Aretha Franklin. Then it was back to mellow, with Scaggs' New Orleans-flavoured set barely registering with the fans until the finale of his 1976 hit Lido Shuffle.

By mixing Motown classics with his own lengthy back catalogue, McDonald overshadowed Scaggs, whose show seemed better suited to a cruise ship.

But with eucalypts towering over the stage, vino flowing and pleasant company, they could have put on the Mormon Tabernacle Choir covering Metallica and it would have been an agreeable evening - notwithstanding the tuxedo shuffle.