By Preston Jones
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
GRAND PRAIRIE — Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, the men who comprise the core of Steely Dan, have grown from sour, sharp-tongued hipsters into irascible iconoclasts over the course of their 25-year, stop-and-start career.
During Thursday night’s set at Nokia Theatre, as the Grammy-winning duo’s “Think Fast, Steely Dan” tour winds down, Fagen and Becker repeatedly illustrated the brief distance between rebellious youth and unconventional adulthood.
Supported by a crisp octet and a trio of robust backup singers, Steely Dan doled out their signature fusion of jazz, rock, pop and blues; despite the passage of time, there are still no other American bands that do quite what Steely Dan can.
From the supple funk of “I Got the News” to the rocket-fueled boogie of “Bodhisattva,” the show biz kids deftly moved between the various moods and textures of their eclectic catalog. Sadly — and despite sterling performances throughout — it was clear that the hits were what the crowd (which gave Becker and Fagen a standing ovation upon entering) came to hear.
As soon as “Bodhisattva’s” final notes faded and the band picked up with “Two Against Nature,” the title track from 2000’s comeback album, there was a notable uptick in the number of folks heading for the lobby, uninterested in hearing the less-familiar tunes.
Fagen and Becker certainly deserve better than being treated like the bands who gladly tour as jukeboxes with pulses, cashing in on the past without trying to advance their art.
Steely Dan remains as vibrant as it was in the ’70s. Fortunately, if the fickle nature of some fans bothers them, it doesn’t show.