Steely Dan | 07.06.15

steelydan sqAlthough the show barely touched the band’s long musical heritage, the offering was a full meal and more, well worth the damp asses and the long walks.




steelydan 500

Rockabye Gollie Angel Tour
Red Rocks Amphitheater, Morrison, Colo.

I thought the night was going to be a bust. The little town of Morrison was all but deserted on a July night that was cool and threatening rain. This concert might not be as well attended as I thought. I started driving up the labyrinth hills of Red Rocks Amphitheater and there it was: a car sort of shoehorned between two other cars, its front end nearly falling down the ravine. Soon, more cars parked as appropriately as possible in every space. Every nook and cranny was filled—and then there were the people. They wore ponchos and every make of North Face to cover and protect themselves from the threatening weather. I gave up looking for a spot, turned my car around, and left it not far from the entrance of the park. I would hike this one.

As I entered the bowl, I was amazed at just how many people were there. The place was packed (Red Rocks tops at 9,500 and the show was a near-sellout) and the party was already started. I must admit that my Elvis Costello and the Imposters performance was heard as I made my way up to the venue. Costello’s band, including longtime Attractions keyboardist Steve Naïve, delivered a nice 45-minute appetizer to the night’s main attraction.

The 11 members of the Steely Dan band were the first to arrive, and would prove essential throughout the night. Walter Becker claimed they were the best band they had ever assembled, and he was not wrong. After an intro titled “Cubano Champ,” Donald Fagen and Becker entered the stage from opposite sides. Fagen seems to move closer each year to being a Pixar character (long coat, dark glasses, slicked back hair) while Becker appears to have settled in to his elder rock statesmen role, happy to live on the solid legacy he and Fagen have laid down. Fagen, the band’s voice, rocked away at his organ, only rising a few times to play the melodica center stage.

Forty-three years into their career, Steely Dan still found opportunities to expand on songs that had been played hundreds of times over the years, with Fagen stretching brilliantly to find every nuance in the songs. The jazz influences that Steely Dan championed were evident throughout the show, with the band repeatedly taking center stage to wow the “heard it when it came out” audience. Songs like “Show Biz Kids” were stretched out and funked up, giving the songs a smoother, cooler feel above and beyond the wry observations it offered when it first came out in 1973.

It is hard to downplay how great the assembled Steely Dan band performed. Drummer Keith Carlock was a flurry of precise strikes throughout the night, and guitarist/music director Jon Herrington captured the sound that every fan of the band remembered, while overseeing the expansion of the familiar with care. The Dannettes offered the trademark backing vocals and also performed the song “Dirty Work,” which was originally sung by early Steely Dan vocalist David Palmer.

While the fog, mist, and drizzle tried to hold the crowd back, they partied on into the night, heading out to the strains of a Nelson Riddle song. Although the show barely touched the band’s long musical heritage, the offering was a full meal and more, well worth the damp asses and the long walks. | Jim Dunn


· Cubano Chant (Ray Bryant cover)
· The Boston Rag 
· Black Cow 
· Aja 
· Hey Nineteen 
· Black Friday 
· Things I Miss the Most 
· Show Biz Kids 
· Time Out of Mind 
· Dirty Work 
· Bodhisattva 
· Daddy Don’t Live in That New York City No More 
· Babylon Sisters 
· I Want To (Do Everything for You) (Joe Tex cover)
· Peg 
· My Old School
· Reelin’ in the Years

· Kid Charlemagne
· The Untouchables (Nelson Riddle cover)

About Jim Dunn 126 Articles
Jim Dunn grew up in NY in the 70s and 80s. Even though that time in music really shapes his appreciation it does not define it. Music, like his beloved history is a long intermingled path that grows, builds and steals from its past. He lives in Colorado with his lovely wife and a wild bunch of animals.

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