August 07, 2009

STEELY EYED

Rob Tannenbaum lights Steely Dan shows aflame:
"On his best nights, Donald Fagen looks like a guy who got lost on his way to the OTB parlor. No matter how long Steely Dan recorded in L.A., Fagen remained a New Yorker, gruff and pale, and last week he was even less hale than usual. On Tuesday night, they recreated Aja, their 1979 best-seller, an LP about idealism and transcendence, then followed with more than an hour of hits and complex drum fills; we’d never seen so much man-dating at a concert, not even at the Pet Shop Boys. There were more ponytails than a Hannah Montana concert. (“Look at all these stereo salesmen,” my own man-date chuckled.) In a voice as dry as the Santa Ana winds, Fagen coughed up some high notes, shorting out altogether on “Home at Last,” and announced he had a cold. The next night, a performance of Gaucho was canceled owing to his illness. On Friday, with Larry Carlton joining as a special guest — you should have heard the held tones he injected at the end of his “Reelin’ In the Years” solo! Seriously tasty! — they did The Royal Scam, a mean-spirited record that begins with a story of how the late sixties counterculture died, and Fagen muddled the first verse to “The Caves of Altamira.” The next night he was more voluble, adding new inflections and syncopations to songs, but on “Peg” it seemed he might lose his voice entirely, and a well-heeled couple next to me, in prime seats by the soundboard, declared the show “flat” and walked out halfway through. Elitists are difficult to keep happy."

Posted by jessica hopper at August 7, 2009 11:35 AM | TrackBack