Three Dog Night Live in Boston

three dog night Oldies 103.3 series kicks off with Three Dog Night and   The Paisley Project

By Joe Viglione

June 13, 2009 Three Dog Night returned to Boston to perform at the Esplanade, the annual Oldies 103.3 Summer Free Concert series. “Family Of Man” kicked things off at 8:15 PM, the Hatch Shell immersed in deep red and, like two of the three original members of America did exactly the year before, two of the three original members of 3 Dog Night – Danny Hutton and Cory Wells – put on an impressive and professional program featuring sixteen songs, the majority of them Top 40 hits from the 1970s.  “One Man Band” followed, the huge crowd -larger than last year’s big turnout – appreciated the bang bang hit parade.

“Black & White” seemed like such an overt and obvious statement when it hit #1 in August of 1972 (Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder copying the idea ten years later for the also #1 “Ebony & Ivory”)  and if not as subtle as “Try A Little Tenderness” (not played this evening), still effective to the majority of the crowd.   Hoyt Axton’s “Never Been To Spain”  and B.W. Stevens “Shambala”  show the country leanings of the group, but it was the all-out pop at 8:31 pm of the fifth song on the playlist, “Out In The Country’, that still dazzled thirty-nine years after it hit #15 on the charts.

Greatest Hits Live * - Three Dog Night (CD 2008)


Greatest Hits Live * (CD, 2008, Shout! Factory)
“Easy To Be Hard” was soulful while a touch of acapella helped “Old Fashioned Love Song” bring the darkness in  at 8:45 PM.  Here’s where the group got a bit experimental, “You Can Leave Your Hat On” from the Randy Newman songbook was guaranteed not to get the same reaction “Eli’s Coming” would have, but Cory and Danny always want to get the point across that they are more than a hit machine. 

“One” – their second hit but first Top 5 smash – an onslaught of sound reminiscent of the original production by the great Gabriel Mekler off of the group’s first l.p.   At 8:52 the tenth song of the night was the title track off of their “It Ain’t Easy” album, the great country songwriter Ron Davies (passed away 10/30/04) – no relation to Ray Davies of The Kinks – would be proud, his nugget also covered by David “Ziggy Stardust” Bowie and Mitch “Detroit” Ryder during their glitter-era phases.

It’s hardly a glitter song, but it worked its way into the movement and was also quite a diversion from the usual Three Dog Night fare.  Where some may have preferred a mini-string section (and their new CD is Live With The Tennessee Symphony Orchestra – see first photo on this review) the boys went into “Heart Of Blues”    See it here from last year in Atlanta

At 9:02 “Liar” brought things back to rock & roll, sounding menacing with a screaming Michael Alsup guitar. “Sure as I’m Sitting Here’ Followed at 9:o6,  with the fourteenth song of the evening, the rowdy “Mama Told Me Not To Come” proving why pop music is so lasting and why rap music – used as a bizarre interlude in the song – is so disposable.   Many agreed the joke went on too long, perhaps the boys trying to prove they could rap with the best of them.  There’s no need to go there. Let lesser acts sample their wares, 3 Dog Night are best when they do their thing and the eternal “Celebrate” moved the crowd and proved that at 9:19 PM. 

Gabriel Mekler’s producton mastepiece copied note for note, and more effective than Kool and the Gang’s similarly titled epic.  (Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” hit #1 in 1980 while 3 Dog Night’s “Celebrate” hit #15 in 1970.  Dog Night’s is the more festive, even if the 1980 hit is played at more weddings).   At 9:23 the tune that brought the curtain down, #16, was “Joy To The World”, and delerium followed.  “It’s wonderful being here on a beautiful night in Boston…”Jeremiah Was A bullfrog” – four simple words destined to bring pandemonium to the banks of the River Charles.

Post Script: The boys had a full house in the dressing room after the show, but Cory Wells did come out to pay his respects to the Visual Radio staff and for that we thank him.   Three Dog Night will return to the area on July 24 at the Mohegan Sun’s Wolf’s Den in Uncasville, Connecticut.  For a full list of shows: