Friday, September 23, 2011



'Yacht Rock' (on Channel 101)

Walter Becker - Todd Bishop
Donald Fagen - Myke Chilian

So, last night I finally made the pilgrimage. I saw Steely Dan live in concert at the Beacon Theater in New York!

Steely Dan is my all-time favorite group, ever since "Rikki, Don't Lose That Number". But it was solidified by my inclusion in the 10:30 Club of the Trumbull House (better known simply as T-House) dorm at UConn. (And big thanks to my "cousin" Joel Fontanella for helping me get immersed in their music.)

I've collected albums of rarities like that "Walk It Like You Talk It Or You'll Lose That Beat" soundtrack, and keep an eye out for any TV appearances they might have made. (Usually after the fact, thanks to YouTube.) Earlier this year, I saw the Steely Dan tribute band Beau Bolero at the Infinity Music Hall in Norfolk, Ct.

But I've never seen Becker and Fagan onstage live before.

Usually the reason was that their appearances in NYC just didn't jibe with my days off, or I learned of their upcoming shows too late, only to discover they were sold out. And for quite a few years once I arrived in the Big Apple, it was just a matter of not being able to afford the ticket prices.

I did get to see Donald Fagen when he was a member of the New York Rock and Soul Revue some time ago. But as much as I enjoyed the show, I left the theatre (and I think that was at the Beacon as well) thinking that it just wasn't the same. I really needed to see Fagen and Becker together up there.

During a bathroom break at the Beau Bolero show, a fellow porcelain painter was incredulous that I would be seeing a tribute band and yet never saw the originals. And he was right, it was time to correct that omission in my life.

So there I was, with a great seat (R103) that provided a dead center view of the stage, with nice people on either side of me (a couple from Canada, a couple from Jersey, and a young Costa Rican music student - because of the sound board, our row only had six seats) and a dlunk idiot in front of me unfortunately. But even he couldn't douse my enjoyment of the show. Becker was really laid-back - to the point that at some times he seemed to disappear as he blended in with the surroundings.
Fagen really did disappear a few times, giving his partner the chance to showcase one of his songs. And for some reason Mr. Nightfly gave me a Larry David vibe throughout the night. (Ever since "Cousin Dupree" came out, I always picture Fagen when they sing about "the skeevy look in your eyes". Maybe that's why he's wearing the shades all the time...)
There was a theme each night of the show at the Beacon (which ends its run tonight) - one night was dedicated to "Aja", another to "Royal Scam" I believe. Maybe a Greatest Hits evening. For us it was Internet Requests night, which I think was a con. This was basically a greatest hits night as well - and you'll never convince me that anybody requested the cover of James Brown's "Papa Don't Take No Mess".

I would have thought people who requested songs would have gone for more obscure choices that you hardly ever hear them perform live - "Here At The Western World", for example, and "Gaucho" (although I have seen several videos of that on YouTube.) Apparently they haven't done "Rikki" in many years, which I find surprising, but I also got the impression that Fagen is sick of it. After it was over, he pointed an accusatory finger at the audience and said, "Remember, YOU asked for it!" But what do I know?

I was surprised certain songs were omitted from the line-up: "Barrytown", "Any World", "Bad Sneakers", and especially "Doctor Wu", the song that cemented my love for them. I would have requested "Here At The Western World", but maybe that was too slow for the rocking groove they laid down.

(My Canadian neighbors to the left of me asked me if I requested anything and I said no. I explained that if it didn't get played, I would be upset and probably would look upon it as being a personal insult - especially in light of my belief that I'm the center of the universe. They laughed, thinking I was joking.....)

With the obligatory encore, they played a most O'Bvious exclusion from the main set, especially considering how the line-up wound down - "Kid Charlemagne". That was a fantastic choice to end the night! I just love the story that song tells......

And to send us out into the night (which thankfully remained rain-free despite earlier forecasts), the band - which Becker declared to be the best they ever worked with onstage and I could see no reason to doubt his word - played the theme music for the TV version of 'The Untouchables'!

As far as I'm concerned, that's what Steely Dan is - untouchable.

Should they come around again someday, I won't let the opportunity slip by to see them. I repeat a lot of mistakes in my life, but that won't be one of them.....
The real deal for Steely - 09/19/11
(courtesy of the NY Times)
Here's the set list for last night's shows (09/22/11):

Your Gold Teeth
Black Friday
Hey Nineteen
Time out of Mind
Show Biz Kids
Home at Last
Papa / intros
Rikki, Don't Lose That Number
Dirty Work
Do it Again
My Old School
Reelin In The Years
Encore: Kid Charlemagne
Outro: The Untouchables

As for the pictures seen here (since it is an "As Seen On TV" showcase), they're from an online series (I think) called 'Yacht Rock' which was produced under the aegis of Channel 101. I've only seen one episode so far - about Kenny Loggins recording the "Caddyshack" theme song - and it's where I got all but one of these pictures.
If you'd like to check them out, click here......


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