Steely Dan Live: Take Two

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I've found that when it come to some bands there are no fair weather fans. You're either on board or you can't stand them. Such is the case with Steely Dan. From 1972 to 1980, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen released seven divine albums that deftly mixed rock, jazz, funk, and any other number of musical genres. While they did play live, the real way to experience Steely Dan was with one of those albums on your turntable and headphones firmly attached to your noggin'. Those guys were tight in the studio. They still are, actually.

 

After the band broke up in 1981, Becker moved to Hawaii and farmed avocados while Fagen released a string of solo albums, including 1982's The Nightfly and 1993's Kamakiriad, which Becker produced. The pair toured together in support of Kamakiriad, and apparently that reunion stuck, because by 2000 a new Steely Dan album was on store shelves, the first studio release by the band in 20 years. That CD, Two Against Nature, ended up winning four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year.

 

So I guess you can tell by the brief history lesson that I'm one of those folks that is on board with Steely Dan. After lamenting the fact that I never got to see them live in their prime, I finally got the chance to do so back in 1994 during the band's first reunion tour. Unfortunately for me, whoever was running the sound at that North Charleston Coliseum show should have been shot. The band opened with "Do It Again," the first song from their first album, Can't Buy a Thrill, but you could barely tell. It sounded like they were playing underwater. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement.

 

Nearly 20 years later I got another chance to see the band play. This past Sunday night at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center Steely Dan played before a sold out audience. This time the sound was exquisite. After a great yet brief opening set by Chicago's own Deep Blue Organ Trio. The trio, which included Chris Foreman on Hammond B3, Greg Rockingham on drums, and Bobby Broom on guitar, only played three songs, but they made them count, especially their cover of the standard "The Way You Look Tonight" that ended their set.

 

After the openers, the Bipolar Allstars (the band minus Fagen and Becker) took to the stage and played a horn-leaden intro cover of Gerry Mulligan's "Blueport." Becker and Fagen then made their entrances, and for the next two and a half hours or so it was sheer Steely Dan heaven. Although they didn't play my favorite Steely Dan song, "Pretzel Logic," they did dig deep into the catalogue, and with the eleven-piece Bipolar Allstars backing them, Fagen and Becker really showed the crowd why Steely Dan's music still resonates more than 40 years after that first album. If you weren't there, you missed an amazing show.

 

Setlist:

Blueport (Bipolar Allstars only)

Your Gold Teeth

Aja

Hey Nineteen

Showbiz Kids

Black Cow

Black Friday

Time Out of Mind

Godwhacker

Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More

Bodhisattva

Razor Boy

Home At Last

I Want To (Do Everything For You)

Josie

Peg

My Old School

Reelin' In The Years

 

Encore:

Kid Charlemagne

The Untouchables Theme (Bipolar Allstars only)