Aug 11, 2009

Concert Review: Steely Dan (The Royal Scam Performance) New York City- 8/10/09

Steely Dan are winding down their eight sold out nights at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. Each night had a different theme, playing three different albums in their entirety on specific nights. Last night I got to see them perform my favorite Steely Dan album: The Royal Scam.

The album was released in 1976, went gold and peaked at #15 on the album charts. It was the prelude to the smash Aja the following year. The Royal Scam was a more heavier rock album with some of Steely Dan's best guitar work. It contained the classics Kid Charlemagne, Green Earrings, Haitian Divorce & the title track to name a few. The cover featured a homeless man sleeping below skyscrapers with snake & monster heads. Very Gothic, and different from most Steely Dan art work.

As usual Steely Dan were right on target sounding like a well organized machine of music. They play perfectly note for note, with everything in synch. They band features a four piece horn section, a fantastic drummer;Keith Carlock (03-09), keyboardist Jim Beard (08-09), bass player Freddie Washington (06-09), & the great guitar work of longtime member Jon Harrington (00-09).

They are backed by three female singers who help accompany Donald Fagen's vocals and do a fantastic job on the all those great classic Steely Dan female vocals. They even get to do the lead singing on The Fez & a Supremes tune. They are led by the beautiful Carolyn Leonhard Escoffery who has been singing with the Dan since 2000, she also appears on their albums Two Against Nature & Everything Must Go.

As for Steely Dan; Walter Becker & Donald Fagen have been together since their days at Bard college in the late sixties. They became the core of a band that employed some of the best studio jazz & rock musicians in the business throughout the seventies making a string of successful classic albums. All without touring. They disbanded in 1981 and worked on each others various solo projects, and decided to tour again in 1993. Since then they always seem to be on the road and their favorite stop seems to be the Beacon Theater when in New York City. The venue does work well, for them as they just get up there and play. Our seats were in the balcony but right on top of the stage and the sound was pretty good up there as well.

Donald Fagen sang most of the lead vocals while sitting at the piano with his sunglasses on, doing his thing. He rarely got up and didn't juggle around playing all the different instruments I have seen him play on previous tours. I thought his vocals were exceptionally good, especially on My Old School, Josie & Peg. He is an incredible musician, more of a maestro leading this fantastic music ensemble. He has a vocal style different than anyone else with peculiar yet educated lyrics that make him who he is.

Walter Becker also laid back, casual and cool, looks as if he is a scientist who just walked in off the Upper West Side. But when he straps on the guitar, he plays incredible clean, crisp, guitar leads and looks like he's doing it with such ease.

The crowd loved it as ovations & cheers broke out through out the night from the rafters of the Theater. By the way the old theater has been renovated and cleaned up making it a real nice venue. The AC worked well too, a few summers ago on a similar humid eve, it didn't.

I think we got a great set list, basically the Royal Scam & most of the Aja album with some other classics mixed in.

My Old School had them dancing in the aisles as did the encores. I really haven't followed the set lists for this tour but tonight we got treated to an old classic that Steel Dan rarely does live; Reeling In the Years. It was a surprise & the first time I saw them do it in over a dozen Dan shows I have been to through the years.

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Steely Dan NYC Beacon Theater -"THE ROYAL SCAM SHOW" Set List: 8/10/09

KID CHARLEMAGNE
THE CAVES OF ALTAMIRA
DON'T TAKE ME ALIVE
SIGN IN STRANGER
THE FEZ
GREEN EARRINGS
HAITIAN DIVORCE
EVERYTHING YOU DID
THE ROYAL SCAM
HEY NINTEEN
DADDY DONT LIVE IN NYC ANYMORE (Becker vocals)
AJA
BLACK FRIDAY
HOME AT LAST
PARKERS BAND

Walter Becker does band intros -(Ladies sing the Supremes Love Is Like Itchin In My Heart)

THIRD WORLD MAN
JOSIE
MY OLD SCHOOL

PEG
REELING IN THE YEARS

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