Sep 20, 2011

Concert Review: Steely Dan @ the Beacon Theater (Aja Show) 9/19/11


“Break out The hats & hooters”….. Steely Dan, a band that did not tour much during their hey days now seem to be a regular on the concert circuit every couple of years. They have found a home at the Beacon Theater on The Upper West Side of Broadway in Manhattan.

The Beacon is not my favorite venue, great location but the seating is rather high up in the loge area. We were in the first loge at a very high priced $150 ticket for being so high up. The seats are tightly close together, not enough leg room, rest rooms & a rather small lobby which is very tight at the start or end of the show. The sound can also be iffy, although it was pretty good last night.

No matter what economic times we live in the huge Steely Dan fan base are loyal and always come out. Last nights show was the fourth of seven sold out nights at the Beacon on their Shuffle Diplomacy 2011 Tour. Each night at the Beacon has a different theme usually where an entire album is played, on the fourth night it was the classic 1977 five million selling Aja album.

Steely Dan is made up of Upper East Side resident, Donald Fagan the multi keyboardist, piano player, lead vocalist & main song writer. He is a perfectionist, pays very close attention to detail & on stage is the leader of the whole show.

His longtime partner, Queens born Walter Becker handles the guitar work on stage rhythm as well as some lead. Becker also has written with Fagan, played bass, as well as produced may Steely Dan & solo Fagan projects through their career.

The current tour lineup playing as clean & meticulous as Steely Dan music can be played, were just flat out- great. The Miles High Big Band (as they are called) features long time Steely Dan touring guitarist Jon Herington (2000-1022) who once again was phenomenal, the popular Keith Carlock who was just as incredible on drums, Jim Beard on keys & Freddie Washington on bass.

The fantastic horn section included; Michael Leonard (trumpet) Jim Pugh (trombone) Roger Rosenberg (baritone sax) & Walter Weiskopf (sax).

Helping Fagan on the legendary Steely Dan female vocal arrangements are “the Embassy Brats” featuring the lovley Carolyn Leonhart Escoffery, who has been with Steely Dan on Tour & on record since 2000.

Along side Carolyn were Cindy Mizelle & Catherine Russell. The girls were sensational, also doing a remarkable performance when they alternated the lead vocals on the classic “Dirty Work”.

Fagan’s voice was certainly a bit overworked as it sounded very hoarse. The girls really helped him out last night carrying his hoarse voice through some rough spots, although to his credit he carried on without missing a beat. Fagan of course was fantastic on piano & the various key board instruments he played. A fully bearded Walter Becker was great on guitars, and he even gave us a bit of storytelling during “Hey Nineteen” as well as doing the band intros.

The show opened with The Sam Yahel Trio doing a half hour set & then the Miles High Big Band doing an Intro called Dizzy’s Bidness. It followed by Fagan & Becker taking the stage to a huge ovation from the mostly over forty crowd.

Carolyn Escoffey then walked over to the front right side of the stage & placed a record on a phonograph, as the band started out the Aja album. (By the way she did turn it over after side one was complete.)

It was an enjoyable extra long show, as people who were at other nights said those shows were shorter. The band gave the crowd their money’s worth playing well over two & a half hours. Highlights for me were Aja, Home At Last, Bodhisattva, My Old School, Reelin in the Years, Kid Charlamagne & the rare live performance of Riki Dont Lose that Number. 


Steely Dan Set List- 9/19/11

Dizzys Bidness (intro)

(Aja album in it's entirety)
Black Cow
Aja
Deacon Blues
Peg
Home At Last
I Got The News
Josie

Your Gold Teeth
Black Friday
Lunch With Gina
Hey Nineteen
Riki Don’t Lose That Number
Show Biz Kids
Godwhacker
Time Out Of Mind
Papa Don’t Take No Mess
Dirty Work
Bodhisattva
My Old School
Reeling In the Years

Encores- Kid Charlemagne
Last Tango In Paris

Sep 11, 2011

Mets Honor 911 Ten Years Later

The Mets did a fantastic job of honoring 911 on the tenth anniversary at Citi Field. The Mets players along with eight New York City agencies lined the foul lines in a touching pregame ceremony. MLB & Joe Torre denied the team the right to wear FDNY / NYPD caps in place of their usual Mets caps.


2001 Mets Pitcher & native New Yorker John Franco threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Mike Piazza. Also on hand from the 2001 team were manager Bobby Valentine who was on hand broadcasting the ESPN nationally televised game in honor of the anniversary. Robin Ventura, Todd Zeile & Steve Trachsel were also on hand to escort the honored guests onto the field.


Former Met Rusty Staub who's organization The New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund has donated more than 115 million dollars since 911 was also on hand. 

here is the link from the Mets site of the ceremony: http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110911&content_id=24568022&vkey=09112011&c_id=nym

Here is the emotional Mike Piazza pre game interview with Bobby V. alongside as well:  http://search.espn.go.com/piazza/video/6

Sep 5, 2011

Concert Review: Stevie Nicks at Jones Beach- 9/4/2011

It was a beautiful night on the ocean as Stevie Nicks put on another incredible performance closing out her “In Your Dreams” tour. It was the final night of the twenty show tour which mostly ran through the e late summer. Earlier in the year Stevie supported Rod Stewart on his Heart & Soul Tour. This latest set of shows was a Stevie Nicks solo tour featuring Michael Grimm as an opening act.

No matter how many times I see Stevie Nicks ( I have to go through my ticket stubs because I lost count) she never disappoints. Is it possible that she even gets better? It sure sounds that way. We had incredible sixth row seats just off to the right of center stage, nice & close. The weather was also perfect as breeze blew into the Jones Beach Theater from the nearby beach.

Stevie played her usual legendary classics (Rhiannon, Gold Dust Woman, Dreams, Stand Back, Edge of Seventeen, Landslide) but this show was different than previous tours because she is currently promoting a new album/CD. “In Your Dreams” was released earlier this summer to rave reviews debuting in the Billboard Top Ten. Some call it one of the best solo works of her career.

She has incorporated six songs from the new album/CD in this tour’s set list. Most note worthy were strong performances of a new fan favorite Annabel Lee (inspired by the Edgar Allen Poe character) Secret Love, For What It’s Worth & Soldier’s Angel. During this show Stevie seemed to talk, telling more stories than usual letting us into her life. One of the more emotional stories was about the song “Soldier’s Angel”.

Stevie who does a lot for wounded war veterans, most notably giving out i-pod nano’s to many in hospital with her own personal music choices downloaded into them, was visiting soldiers in a hospital when upon leaving, a bunch of new military patients were being brought in. Chaos erupted as the hospital was overwhelmed, after her visit she was inspired to write the song “Soldiers Angel”.

Stevie is still beautiful with her long blonde hair flowing in the breeze and her infectious smile. Her wonderful voice fills the air as mesmerizing & beautiful as ever. On stage she still dances with her six inch platform boots, twirling her shauls, & scarves. The microphone dons scarves & beads just like the good old days. The mystic aura still surrounds the legend of Stevie Nicks, still true to her personal spirit & the spirit of Rock & Roll. It’s classic Stevie Nicks and her diehard fans want nothing else.

There is a special bond between her & those fans that keep coming back year after year. We have been with her through our growing up from Fleetwood Mac to a her sensational solo career. It seems every performance is being directed straight to the individual person, as she performs with sincere warmth few artists can generate.

The band consisted of her usual players led by the great guitarist Waddy Wachtel, who has played with Stevie since even before she joined Fleetwood Mac. (Watchel has played with countless rock stars & is known as one of the better guitarist in the world. His resume’ includes the Rolling Stones, Don Henley, Bob Dylan, Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Bob Seger, Warren Zevon, Adam Sandler, Everly Brothers & Jackson Browne. Did you know he is a member of Keith Richards solo band the Expensive Wino’s?

He also has done many movie soundtracks. He has played with Stevie on Bella Donna/ Wild Heart / Rock A Little / Trouble in Shangri La / Soundstage live in Chicago / In Your Dreams as well as most of her live tours).

Then there is the familiar female backup vocalists consisting of the beautiful Sharon Celani (who has been with Stevie on record & on tour since 1981) & her sister in law Lori Nicks (also on board since 1981 but then on & off since 1996).

Also I’d like to note that percussionist Lenny Castro was spectacular once again. He has played with Stevie since 1998, & has worked with countless artists like Wachtel. Some include the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac. Elton John, Boz Scaggs &Toto).

As a grown man, who loves the classic rock but has newly found a love for European female fronted gothic metal, I admit here that I began to tear up during Rhiannon & Landslide. It doesn’t get no more beautiful nor more emotional than this. I love you Stevie, as always. I thank you for all the joy you have brought to me in my life. What a great show, I can’t wait for the next one. By the way: Fleetwood Mac is scheduled to Tour in 2012.


STEVIE NICKS SET LIST- JONES BEACH September 4, 2011.

1. Stand Back
2. Secret Love
3. Dreams
4. Moonlight (A Vampire's Dream)
5. Gold Dust Woman
6. Soldier's Angel
7. Annabel Lee
8. For What It's Worth
9. piano solo / slow Rhiannon intro
10. Rhiannon
11. Landslide
12. Ghosts Are Gone
13. Leather and Lace
14. percussion and drum solo
15. Edge of Seventeen
16. Encore: Love Is