Steely Dan stopped by the beautiful Santa Barbara Bowl on April 25, 2017, for a one time show in Santa Barbara to give their long time fans a treat. Playing a number of dates in Las Vegas and San Diego, this one time show didn’t disappoint the crowd one bit. Opening up the show was just the backing band for Steely Dan, they played an instrumental song that got the crowd moving and swaying back and forth. The upbeat jazzy tune made it clear that the show was starting and all of a sudden the rush of the audience getting to their seats was incredible. The show was starting and the musicians on the stage were just getting warmed up.
As Walter Becker and Donald Fagen walked onto the stage from behind the big black backdrop, the crowd erupted and cheered as if it was the first time seeing this legendary duo. They wasted no time jumping into “Black Cow” and “Aja” off the 1977 release Aja that is a fan favorite. Without skipping a beat, they jumped into the smooth piece that’s “Hey Nineteen” off of the 1980 gem Gaucho. The crowd getting into the music and the lyrics more and more as the show goes on, the smell of fresh flowers in the air, the beer and wine being consumed, it was almost a time warp back to the seventies. Things started to get really groovy when they played “Black Friday” from the album Katy Lied, which was released in 1975.
“Show Biz Kids”, off the album Countdown To Ecstasy album (1973), lit up the night as people were standing up dancing to the music with no worries in mind. The weather was perfect as the music played in the warm spring night. “Kid Charlemagne”, was the next hit they played, from The Royal Scam album (1976), and the crowd seemed to love the various tracks Steely Dan has given them so far. Something from their latest album, Everything Must Go, which came out in 2003, the song “Godwhacker” was a song most everyone know. Donald Fagen playing his Melodica like there’s no tomorrow had the crowd jumping with joy and enjoying every second of the performance.
“Razor Boy”, off of Countdown To Ecstasy (1973), was sung by the talented back up singers, The Danettes, and mesmerized the audience with their beautiful voices. Also from that album they played “Bodhisattva” which was just what the crowd needed. It lit a fire under the audience and they were dancing and grooving to the jazz that was happening on the stage. Great musicians doing what they love. Walter Becker took on the lead vocals for Katy Lied‘s track “Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More”, and kept the vibes moving. Not one audience member was sitting down, it was a show for the ages. Everyone gave Walter Becker a big round of applause and kept it going for a good minute.
They continued with the smash hit everyone is familiar with “Do It Again”, off of their debut album Can’t Buy A Thrill released in 1972. The entire venue was in sync with the band and hit every note perfectly. A drum solo was mixed into the middle of the song and was brilliantly executed. An introduction of the band was handled by Walker Becker during the intro to “Oo Ee I Love You” and it was done very well. All the musicians that tour with Steely Dan deserve the praise they received from the audience that night. “Josie” and “Peg” were played following that standing ovation. The crowd wasn’t losing a beat and these guys just kept playing their hearts out on stage. It looks too easy for them, and it should be after playing these songs for over forty years and they haven’t lost a beat at all. “My Old School” and “Reeling In The Years” ended their set as the audience cheered for them to come out and do an encore.
After only a couple minutes, Walter and Donald came back out with the rest of the band and played the title track off the album Pretzel Logic. Everyone seemed to be having fun and enjoying every second of the jazz rock masters work they put on display on this perfect night. Closing out the night they played a cool instrumental cover of “The Untouchables” theme by Nelson Riddle. It was the perfect touch to end the night. As the crowd headed toward the exit, I couldn’t help but think about what I just saw. This was my first time seeing Steely Dan and they did not disappoint. I would recommend a Steely Dan concert to anyone of any age that likes music in general. Their jazz fusion rock style is the ultimate thrill for music lovers who likes their melodies and rhythms to be cool.
Steely Dan will join an all-star lineup this summer in Los Angeles and New York for The Classic: East and West gigs. These classic rock shows will also feature heavy weights Eagles, The Doobie Brothers, Fleetwood Mac, Journey, and Earth Wind & Fire. The Los Angeles dates are July 15 & 16, while the New York dates will happen on July 29 & 30. Steely Dan will be performing on July 15th and July 29th. Don’t miss out on these two huge shows, and be sure to catch Steely Dan.