Reliable Steely Dan Delivers

Originally published on July 21, 2008

There was one major hiccup at Sunday’s show at the Dodge Theatre, however. A fire alarm went off during opening act and local jazz star Joey DeFrancesco’s set. A puzzled DeFrancesco kept playing while the house lights came on, and the audience, apparently not worried, didn’t bother to leave. A stagehand cut the sound and announced everyone needed to evacuate, only to declare the situation safe as soon as everyone mobbed the exits. DeFrancesco returned and the show continued without a hitch.

Dan took the stage as usual with its eight-piece band playing an instrumental overture, featuring a medley of more obscure tunes, including “Everyone’s Gone to the Movies” and “The Fez.”

The only earlier tunes performed were “Show Biz Kids” and “Parker’s Band,” both given radical rearrangements. Backup singers Tawatha Agee and Cindy Mizelle took lead vocal duties on “Parker’s Band” while “Show Biz Kids” was deconstructed similar to the way it was performed when Dan visited Cricket Pavilion with Michael McDonald two years ago.

Becker took a turn at the mike as well, handling vocals on the title track from Gaucho.

The first half of the show focused mainly on rarely heard album tracks, including “I Got the News” from Aja and “Everything You Did,” a Royal Scam tune that had never been performed live before this year. The funky Godwhacker, from 2003’s Everything Must Go album was an early highlight, with Fagen stepping out from behind his Fender Rhodes electric piano to play some melodica, a children’s wind instrument with a keyboard that has become a trademark of Dan’s sound.

The second half of the show focused on the hits, with tracks like “Babylon Sisters,” “Hey Nineteen” and “Peg” bringing the mostly middle-aged crowd to its feet. “Aja” brought the house down, with stunning solos from saxophonist Walt Weiskopf and drummer Keith Carlock, who was clearly the audience favorite in the band.

Guitarist Jon Herington shined on the set-closing “Kid Charlemagne,” handling the famous guitar solo effortlessly and proving he is a worthy successor to former Dan guitar heroes, Skunk Baxter and Larry Carlton.

As usual, the band encored with the rocking “Don’t Take Me Alive” followed by the overplayed “FM.” Some were disappointed at the lack of “Reelin’ in the Years” and “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number,” but the variety of less radio-friendly tunes more than made up for a couple of missing hits.

Still it would be nice to hear more tunes off Countdown to Ecstasy or Katy Lied.

 

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