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Three Dog Night didn’t disappoint at Packard

I’m old enough that Three Dog Night’s “Black and White” was one of the first singles I owned.

After interviewing Danny Hutton this month, I’ve now interviewed all three of the band’s original lead singers — Cory Wells in the ’80s when 3DN was one of the first, maybe even the first, act to play the brand new Holiday Inn Metroplex in Liberty and Chuck Negron in the ’90s when he played the Trumbull County Fair.

But I’d never seen the band live until Sunday at Packard Music Hall. I remember covering a Vocal Group Hall of Fame show at the Chevrolet Centre, now Covelli Centre, about a dozen years ago, but I’m pretty sure I had to leave to file my story before headliner Three Dog Night played.

Seeing an act that’s been around for a half-century definitely can be a crapshoot. Some still have it and tour because they love it; others must still be trying to make up for bad record deals signed early on and look like they’re on the road because their manager squandered their retirement nest egg.

Three Dog Night is the former. Hutton is the only one of the three Dogs still on vocals (Wells died in 2015 and Negron has been estranged from his old bandmates since the ’80s and tours solo), but the lineup can deliver the hits that about 1,500 people came to hear Sunday.

David Morgan, who joined the band after Wells’ death, shined early on “Never Been to Spain” and also got a few laughs from the audience during a long intro to “Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here.” As he ran down the list of aches that come with getting older, the 72-year-old singer joked, “On the back of my driver’s license is a list of the organs I need.”

During the interview this month, Hutton said he weighs the same today as he did in 1971, and he looked fit even if those knees aren’t as nimble as they once were. There’s a little more rasp in his voice, but it worked with the material.

What made the polish of Sunday’s show all the more impressive was the concert featured a somewhat makeshift lineup. Guitar player Michael Allsup, the only other member besides Hutton who dates back to the band’s ’70s heyday, couldn’t be there, so Paul Kingery moved from bass to lead guitar and Hutton’s son, Tim, filled in on bass.

If Danny Hutton hadn’t said something, I doubt many in the audience would have realized this isn’t the lineup folks see every night. Kingery’s guitar solo on “One” certainly didn’t disappoint.

Sunday’s 80-minute show included 16 of the 21 consecutive top 40 hits the band released between 1969 and 1975 with “Joy to the World” delivering a rousing finale.

Before “Joy” the band played a new song, “Prayer of the Children,” which will be on “The Road Ahead,” the first studio album by 3DN in more than 40 years. Hutton expects it to be released in early 2020.

Hutton told the audience before the song he didn’t want people fleeing to the bathroom during the new song. The opposite happened. The largely a cappella song and its lush harmonies earned a standing ovation Sunday.

Turns out these old Dogs still can learn some new tricks.

Andy Gray is the entertainment editor for Ticket. Write to him at agray@ tribtoday.com