The Marshall Tucker Band

The Marshall Tucker Band - March 20, 2022 - Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix AZ

For the first time in 20-years, seminal Southern rockers The Marshall Tucker Band came to Phoenix to perform in the city's historic theater in the round, Celebrity Theatre. The vaunted theater's famed rotating stage was in action for the evening and the band made the most of it as members made a point of moving to the 'rear' part of the stage behind the drummer when they could, ensuring that fans always had something to look at no matter where they were seated.

The band played for nearly two hours and their set began with "Running Like the Wind," the title cut from their 1979 album of the same name. Lead vocalist Doug Gray, the only remaining original member of the band, now has a voice that rasps a bit, reminding of that of a blues singer. That quality adds gravitas to his words but there were songs throughout the set of hits and deep album cuts that Gray chose not to sing, passing the microphone to either keys/sax/flute player Marcus James Henderson or guitarist Chris Hicks. Hicks even got to sing one of his own compositions, the funky and strutting "Dog Eat Dog World." An energetic showman throughout, Gray noted that he's 74-years-old and has recently had back surgery and joked that if he falls off the stage to just come and push him back up. With his downhome Southern charm on full display, Gray and his band had the packed house eating out of his hand all night.

Big hit "Heard it in a Love Song" came early in the set as did an extended take on "Take the Highway," a favorite from the band's self-titled 1973 debut. Hicks and second guitarist Rick Willis had a ball trading licks during the cut and, in a tribute to the era in which the song was released, drummer B.B. Borden took a solo. As he did throughout the set, and when he wasn't jamming on keyboards or saxophone, Henderson added killer flute riffs to the song, drawing a big response from the crowd as the flute is part of the MTB's signature sound. Of course the guys were going to pay tribute to their home state of South Carolina and the big and brassy "Blue Ridge Mountain Sky" fit the bill perfectly; the jam even gave bass man Ryan Ware a chance to impress with a solo.

Hicks was especially hot on "Ramblin'" where he also sang soulful vocals, and the guys changed things up a little for the slow and loping cowboy song "Desert Skies." Big hit "Fire on the Mountain" was played but the band saved their biggest hit "Can't You See" for last, extending the length of the song and turning it into an audience participation number. Gray paced the stage and turned his microphone to different parts of the audience, trying to get them to outdo each other as they sang along. A case of unbridled joy for the crowd and for the band, the raucous closer harkened back to something Gray said earlier in the show. When noting his age, Gray said that his daughter has been trying to get him to come off the road for years, to which he responded, "Why would I do that?" The energy expensed and the fun had by all during "Can't You See" was a graphic example of what Gray would be missing out on should he hang it up.

The Phoenix show at Celebrity Theatre was part of the Marshall Tucker Band's 50th Anniversary Tour which continues into the summer. Find a list of upcoming dates here.

More great shows coming to Celebrity Theatre include:
April 16 - Alan Parsons Live Project
May 12 - Steve Hackett
May 19 - Justin Hayward
June 11 - Joe Jackson
Aug. 15 - Little Feat and Hot Tuna
Oct. 2 - Steve Vai

For a complete list of shows coming to Celebrity Theatre go here.

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