Steely Dan; Tower Theater Upper Darby, PA 11/19/09

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Steely Dan; Tower Theater Upper Darby, PA 11/19/09

Postby jimmy19029 » Wed Nov 25, 2009 10:57 am

When Steely Dan reunited and hit the road back in the 90s, I was overjoyed at finally getting the chance to see them play live as they'd only toured for two years in the early 70s before giving it up. I thought I could only ever dream of seeing them do their classic Aja album live.

Their 90s shows were okay but somehow seemed to be missing a certain spark. And Donald & Walter looked a bit awkward and uncomfortable performing live. This was to be expected, I imagine, as the two had admittedly never been totally at ease with their live shows during the 70s. It seemed a few teething problems needed to be worked out. But from 2000 on, the group has gelled into a solid touring unit and most of their current players have been playing on their albums and on the road with them since that time. They just keep getting better and better!

I last saw Donald Fagen playing at the Tower Theater in 2006 behind his Morph the Cat CD and the band has been out touring every year since then. SD's last release was 2003's Everything Must Go, from which, only Godwhacker was played tonight.

When I heard that SD were now following a current craze of band's performing whole classic albums live, I knew I had to check out Aja(Royal Scam was also on offer the following night).

As usual, tickets these days are a bit pricey and there is alot more creative designation and diversification on sections and who pays what. I had originally hoped to find balcony seats since I've sat up there before and balcony at this venue is just as good as sitting downstairs. There were no balcony seats available but they ended up giving me what looked to be downstairs fourth row tickets. But the front rows of the balcony(called the Loge) are now marked exactly the same as the front rows of the Orchestra section with only the seat numbers changing. So in essence, I was paying the exact same price as the guy in the REAL fourth row! And a few rows back, the price went down...by FIFTY DOLLARS! A bit of a creative deception going on there. JEEZ! I don't mind so much if I already know going in what a price is, but, like anyone else, I don't appreciate being misled.

AHH WELL! On with the show. The Deep Blue Organ Trio were the opening act and provided a nice mellow lounge feel. After a half an hour, they vacated the stage and the band, sans Walter & Donald, were out just before 9 playing a cool instrumental, Teenies. THEN...it was AJA TIME! I WAS BACK IN COLLEGE AGAIN!
Just perfect the band sounded! Aja is my favorite song overall from them and it was just as good----No, BETTER than I'd ever imagined or heard it in concert before.

A rowdy guy and his girl and another friend ended up next to me and was out celebrating his birthday. He let out a few whoops and whistles but was cool & polite to me since he and his gang kept getting up for beer & bathroom runs which forced me to stand and move to the side each time. The SD fans sitting behind me were shaking their heads and imagining I might be about ready to throttle them. NOT AT ALL! I didn't mind this as long as they were quiet and not ruining the show for us. After standing and letting out a few more cheers and whistles and letting us all know once again it was his b-day, the guy settled down for the most part and commented to me how great they sounded. Toward the last third of the show, he moved his group over to the next empty row so as not to have to keep bothering me to get up.

I can tell some of the songs, like Deacon Blues, are a bit tough to sing live night after night and did hear a slight straining here or there. But Donald was in quite good voice overall. And he now plays quite the enthused M.C. Alot more animated onstage currently than he ever was in the past.

Walter Becker now usually sings a song or two in the shows that was originally sung by Donald. Tonight he offered us Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More.

Bodhisattva got many up and moving. A young girl ran down to the balcony's edge to boogie along.

And we all loved the cute gimmick of having singer Catherine Russell come over to a turntable sitting on one of the speakers and dropping the needle onto an actual record of Aja right before the band started playing the album....then, a bit later later, turning the record over for side two!

We certainly had wonderful music programs at my junior high & high schools! Steely Dan have chosen no less than TWO of my high school band mates to play keyboards with them over the years...Currently my erstwhile Ridley Raider band mate Jim Beard holds down the keyboard chair for them when he's not pursuing his own career in jazz!

Donald introduced Dirty Work and I thought it was pretty cool to mention David Palmer, the guy who sang it for them originally(I hear David actually joined them onstage to sing it at one of the dates on this tour, in fact!). "But tonight, our LOVELY choir will be singing it for you", Donald said proudly.

Walter explained..."We love the Supremes" as the girls went into their song Itching in my Heart and then came the band intros. Walt said, "We have a new piano player, Jim Beard, and we think he's just the greatest"! And the awesome Jon Herington got to dazzle us once again on guitar during Don't Take Me Alive!

After that it was audience favorite My Old School and Kid Charlemagne before the band came back and Donald announced they had had many different versions of the next song...but now here was the ORIGINAL from their first album Can't Buy a Thrill. FINALLY, the CLASSIC VERSION of Reelin' in the Years was back being played live by them!

After Reelin', Walt & Donald departed the stage leaving the rest of the guys to finish off with an instrumental, Last Tango in Paris.

Setlist:

Teenies

(Aja album)
Black Cow
Aja
Deacon Blues
Peg
Home at Last
I Got the News
Josie

Bodhisattva
Hey 19
Godwhacker
Babylon Sisters
Black Friday
Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More(Walter vocals)
Show Biz Kids
Dirty Work
Itchin' in My Heart(with band intros)
Don't Take Me Alive
My Old School
Kid Charlemagne

Reelin' in the Years (encore)
Last Tango in Paris


Steely Dan is:

Donald Fagen - vocals, keyboards, synthesizers
Walter Becker - vocals, bass, guitar
Jon Herington - guitar
Jim Beard - keyboards
Keith Carlock - drums, percussion
Freddie Washington - bass
Michael Leonhart - trumpet
Roger Rosenberg - baritone saxophone
Walt Weiskopf - alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
Tawatha Agee - vocals
Carolyn Leonhart - vocals
Catherine Russell - vocals
Last edited by jimmy19029 on Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:54 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby jimmy19029 » Thu Nov 26, 2009 3:35 am

Testing
Last edited by jimmy19029 on Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Moon Beam » Fri Nov 27, 2009 9:03 am

Good review Jimmy!, glad you were able to see this one.
What a treat to see a whole album and then some done.
Thanks for posting this here.
http://moonbeamsmindgrounds.blogspot.com/
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