Local radio station WMGK held a concert for the end of summer last night, September 5, 2015 at the Susquehanna Bank Center, in Camden New Jersey. It was called “The Big Gig” and it was. The Doobie Brothers and The Steve Miller Band together for a night of classic rock. When you go to a show like this, expect a greatest hits collection played live and you will not be dissapointed. Both acts were supposed to do 90 minutes, although Miller was actually a bit longer.
From a live perspective the Doobies took the show. They had energy, they were all over the stage, They brought the crowd into the show , generating energy. As Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston along with John McFee made the crowd get on their feet. From “Jesus is Just Alright” to “China Grove” , they proved this was a classic set to reckon with. When they did slower numbers, the crowd sat down, such as “South City Midnight Lady” . For that song, they got a standing ovation from 75 percent of the crowd. For those that saw the Doobies back in the day, it’s clear that while Michael McDonald might have range, they are so much better live without him. He sort of cut the balls off the band, took away their edge. That edge was back last night. In a very big way.
Steve Miller was technically amazing but he basically stood in the center of the stage and played, not really moving more than a foot or two in either direction. Miller trotted out the songs most of the crowd came to see, like ” Fly Like an Eagle” which had an amazing arrangement that lasted about 10 minutes. An acoustic version of “Jet Airliner” and of course “The Joker”. At one point, he donned a cheap Joker mask, then tossed it into the front row. During a show such as this, the crowd knows all the words to the songs and just hopes the artist will do their favorite. Miller has been rockin for years, over half a century when you factor in the years he played covers for a living. Stevie Guitar Miller indeed.
WMGK had two local bands open the show, Work Release and In the Pocket,which features many local acts coming together to do cover songs and even some original music. Both put on a good show and it was a great way for fans to gain exposure to these bands by having them play there. The doors opened at 5:15 p.m. and the show started just after that. The weather was perfect for this kind of concert and that meant many people were early as well. The parking lot was one large tailgate. Some people staying out until just before the headliners took the stage.