The Jazz.com Blog
August 30, 2009 · 0 comments
Steely Dan was once the ultimate studio band. But now they are a seasoned road troupe in the midst of their Rent Party '09 tour. Jazz.com's Marcus Singletary caught their performance in Los Angeles and reports below. T.G.
The final of four Steely Dan performances at the Gibson Amphitheatre in 2009 was packed with an abundance of killer tunes. Although the group began with an awesome one-two punch of "Black Friday" and "Aja" (and likely due to the "greatest hits" nature of the song choices), what followed would instantly mine a less spontaneous yet more crowd pleasing path. The dynamic, letter-perfect "Hey Nineteen"—which included a Walter Becker rap extolling the virtues of Cuervo Gold—managed to retain much of its original charm, and it's tough to argue with tunes such as "Peg," "Josie," and "Bodhisattva."
Donald Fagen and Walter Becker
During what was essentially a reunion of Baby Boomer freaks, hipsters, and high-heads, the Dan paid homage to their own catalog of masked marauder tales and wry urban ruminations. Becker's agile solo turn on Aja's "Home at Last" proved that, as a player, his talents are on par with legendary session guitarist Larry Carlton, the evening's "special guest." Unfortunately, while longtime member Jon Herington was on fire all night, Carlton did not step out front much. With three guitarists in tow, however, the triple threat ensured that all notes fretted and otherwise would consist of some measure of worth.
Although lead singer Donald Fagen admitted that the group's musical direction was currently focused on "impressions of LA in the 70s" formed in the second half of the initial phase of their career, the group did manage to offer a few tracks from their debut CD, Can't Buy a Thrill (1972). "Do It Again" and "Dirty Work" were transformed into steamy ballads and, as the former seemed less confident and was abruptly aborted, "Reelin' in the Years" concluded the show with a bang by retaining its instantly familiar zest.
Fans exited the venue having also witnessed Becker singing (and sounding better on) "Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More"; Carlton recovering from soloing errors during "Kid Charlemagne" to add something completely different to its essence; a rare, elongated bari-sax solo on a sparklingly tight "Black Cow"; and, lamentably, Draconian security guards keeping tight reins on audience members by preventing them from dancing during the set. That the "problem" persisted through one of the band's slowest tracks ("Rikki Don't Lose that Number") is interesting, but, nevertheless, this was a gig that could have turned a casual Steely Dan listener into a diehard.
Personnel: Donald Fagen (vocals, keyboards, melodica), Walter Becker (vocals, guitar), Larry Carlton (guitar), Jon Herington (guitar), Freddie Washington (bass), Keith Carlock (drums), Jim Beard (keyboards, piano), Michael Leonhart (trumpet), Jim Pugh (trombone), Roger Rosenberg (baritone saxophone), Walt Weiskopf (saxophone), Tawatha Agee, Carolyn Leonhart, Catherine Russell (background vocals).
Set List: Black Friday, Aja, Hey Nineteen, Peg, Dirty Work, Bodhisattva, Rikki Don't Lose That Number, Home At Last, Doctor Wu, Any Major Dude Will Tell You, Do It Again, Babylon Sisters, Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More, Black Cow, Josie, Don't Take Me Alive, Kid Charlemagne, Reelin' in the Years
This blog entry posted by Marcus Singletary