By DAN MACINTOSH
A concert bill of Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins and Christopher Cross reads like a killer ‘Yacht Rock’ festival, as all three have been linked to that recent rebranding of ’70s and ’80s soft rock.
However, many of the hits performed at The Hollywood Bowl mixed in soul and rock elements, which were by no means soft. Call this trio three of music’s gentler souls, but just don’t forget they’re also master songwriters.
Christopher Cross ‘Sailing’
Cross opened this night – a night perfect for both sailing and outdoor music — with “All Right.” The now-rotund Cross supported his quiet little singing voice with some surprisingly hot electric guitar licks throughout his set. When he got to “Sailing,” it created the perfect yacht rock moment for many men in the audience wearing appropriate white captain’s hats.
He praised the late Dudley Moore for his role in the original Arthur before singing that film’s theme song. He was joined by McDonald to close out his set with “Ride Like the Wind.”
Kenny Loggins ‘Celebrates’
Front-loaded with a few huge soundtrack hits, Loggins followed Cross with a set that balanced the soft (“Celebrate Me Home”), with more upbeat material, including “This Is It,” which also featured McDonald on piano and vocals. A trio of soundtrack songs comprised the meat of Loggins set, beginning with “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack, and closing with the one-two punch of “Danger Zone” (Top Gun) and “Footloose” from the movie of the same name.
McDonald was the only artist on the bill to include a new song (“Just Strong Enough”) during this nostalgia-laden evening. He opened with “Sweet Freedom,” and closed with The Doobie Brothers’ “Minute by Minute,” where he was joined by openers Loggins and Cross. This trio returned again together for encores of “What a Fool Believes” and “Takin’ It to The Streets.”
Michael McDonald ‘Believes’
With his soulful voice and churchy piano work, McDonald oftentimes colored outside the soft-rock box, while Loggins’ folkish acoustic turns and old-time Rock N Roll also betrayed any strict yacht rock stereotype. However, with his consistently gentle musical demeanor, Cross was clearly the “yachty-ist” rocker of the night.
This concert featured so many big pop hits, the evening flew by fast. Call it yacht rock, if you will, but a whole lot of wonderful pop music is a far better description. And wonderful pop is wonderful pop, whether loud or soft.