Steely Dan – Still a Power House

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Who: Steely Dan

What: The Bluesfest 2017

Where: o2, London

When: 29th October 2017

There is no way of not making mention of the absence in the line-up this week of what Donald Fagen referred to as the Steely Dan Organisation. Steely Dan from their very beginnings have been essentially a duo surrounded by other musicians. One half of that pair, the peerless Walter Becker passed away on the 3rd of September this year. Donald Fagen immediately announced his intention to continue to celebrate the songs he had composed with Mr Becker by continuing to perform with the current group of musicians who have become the Steely Dan band.

After having to cancel a series of solo dates with his own band, The Nightflyers, Mr Fagen has not been slow to keep that promise, meeting all of the Dan gigs that were already booked and if tonight was anything to judge by there is great, great potential for the future.

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Rockin’ Down the Highway

Who: The Doobie Brothers

What: BluesFest 2017

Where: o2 arena, Greenwich, London

When: 29th October 2017

Well, okay, it is a rather predictable title for a Doobie Brothers live review but I’m not going to be too hard on my self. After all, the Doobie Brothers are still, after all these years, most definitely rocking and they are on their way around Europe again so there is some travelling to be done.

The last time I saw the Doobie Brothers was on the very same night (29th October) 7 years ago, when they visited my home neighbourhood of Hammersmith. Tonight, it is a bigger show and they share billing with Steely Dan which was in my estimation a sublime coupling and I wasn’t wrong in my estimate.

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Music: The principal of pleasure (1978-1980)

A guy that I’ve met wrote a list on Facebook which has been running ’round my head for the last few hours. Quite a simple idea really – the albums he was listening to in his teenage years. It sparked something within me and took me back to another time and so I’m up in the night writing a list of my own but also exploring things that in some ways I’d rather not think about it – a very different time – and some things I guess I’d rather forget.

But in the midst of it there was always music.

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Steely Dan – The Most Unforgettable Night of Whatever

About a lifetime ago, my friend, Andrew, and I went to Leeds for the day and in the course of our shopping I brought home every Steely Dan album that had been released to that point, that I didn’t already own. By the time I had worked through albums like Pretzel Logic I was a fan for life. Indeed, Katy Lied joined Van Morrison and Bob Dylan in seeing me almost single-handed through some very tortured teenage years.

Flash forward to 2015 and my wonderful opportunity as I was invited to fly out to the U.S. and cover their residency at the Beacon in New York. I’d seen them a number of times but to see them on home territory playing with imagination and verve — well, this is the stuff that dreams are made of. So let’s take a look at their final night:

Who: Steely Dan

What: rockabye gollie angel tour 2015: “The Most Unforgettable Night of Whatever – Featuring Spectacular Musical Guests, Glorious Tunes and Riffage, and Whatever the Party Calls for! “

When: October 17th, 2015

Where: Beacon Theatre, New York, New York, USA

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The Greatest Damn Steely Dan Band to Ever Come Down the Pipe

Who: Steely Dan

What: rockabye gollie angel tour 2015: “By Popular Demand” night

When: October 16th, 2015

Where: Beacon Theatre, New York, New York, USA

“The greatest damn Steely Dan band ever to come down the pipe”. So said Walter Becker on this “By Popular Demand” night at the Beacon. And you know what – in terms of live performance, –  I think he is just about right. This was an outstanding night of music. The “By Popular Demand” thing might just have been a cool cover-up: I’m not really sure what was so different from some other nights on the tour – but slightly dodgy promotional tools aside, this was a very, very good performance indeed.

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Top of the Pops – Christmas 1979

What: Top of the Pops Christmas Special 1979

Where: BBC 4

When: Christmas 2014

In 2014 I’ve been following as much of the Top of the Pops re-runs from 1979 as the BBC would allow me to. The episodes where Jimmy Saville and Dave Lee Travis were hosts weren’t broadcast but I kept track of the rest right up to the broadcast the other day of the Christmas Day special which covered many of the records from that year which made the top two in the charts.

The only two limitations on the programme seemed that they left out anyone who wouldn’t appear “live” in the studio for the big occasion and the time restraints of the hour long format. In later years, they would probably have just made a second edition for Boxing Day or New Year’s Day but this time it was just the one.

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