Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Steely Dan live 2009: Radio Dupree's envoy on the shows in Padova and Perugia



The shows in Padova (or rather Piazzola sul Brenta outside Padova) and Perugia was the sixth and seventh times I've seen Steely Dan live.
And looking back on it I find that although a lot of songs have been on that setlist each and every time, the seven shows have all been very different shows to me. I've enjoyed them all.

It also means that I know what a Steely Dan show will bring and what to expect:

* Great music played great by great musicians. Check.
* Familiar songs but some of them rearranged. Check.
* Not much of a stage show part from that and some dry comment from Donald and Walter's Hey Nineteen story. Check.
* As this was my first time in Italy I expected some nice surroundings and arenas. Check.
* A loud and engaged audience. And that's where I was surprised to find an audience that was ... reserved. Clearly enjoying the show, but leaning back a bit too far in those chairs. It wasn't enough to get that audience - band thing going. You know what I mean. That upward spiral of audience feeding band feeding audience.

I enjoyed both shows from roughly the same spot; row 7 and 11 respectively. Padova and Perugia are both outdoor venues. Perugia a more traditional one on a sports field, Padova in the piazza of the beautiful Villa Conatrini dating back to 1546.
With a mild breeze on a warm evening I can't think of any indoor arena that could be better.

The sound was to my ears better in Padova than Perugia, but how you experience things
like that is also in many ways individual. I talked to a person who had found the back
-up singers mixed way too low in Piazzola. Something I hadn't noticed.

After looking at some of the videos on YouTube it seems like the scene lights in both Padova and Perugia were cut to aminimum. Black background and little more that a spotlight on Donald singing or the person playing a solo. At least that's the way it felt.

By now I know that a Steely Dan show will not include any stage antics from anyone in the band. Singing and playing and not much moving save the back-up singers. But a wall of light patterns is a plus.

The opening act for some of the European shows; Toon Roos Quartet, wasn't listed for the Padova show, but appeared and played while I had a beer at the bar just behind the stage.
People sitting around small tables on a patio. I spotted Keith Carlock and Jon Herington a couple of tables away. And Roger Rosenberg and Walt Weiskopf walked by.

Sow what about the actual shows?
Donald was in fine voice and made more short comments than I've seen him do before in Padova. A bit hoarser in Perugia.

Jon Herington had less to do and Walter more.

Jim Beard was hidden away behind Donald and the singers but delivered a organ solo on Green Earrings that had me smiling. Still does.

And I must say that three singers sound so much better than two. In their big wigs they did a fair amount of moving about seeming to enjoy themselves.

In the horn section "newcomer" Marvin Stamm did his thing very well.

Did I like the "new" Show Biz Kids? Yes. The new Reelin'? Yes.

And I do feel that Walter did two inspired versions of that Hey Nineteen stroy.

The previous time I saw Steely Dan was in Stockholm 2007. Then I was surprised at how tight and no nonsense the show was. From one song to the next. Bam! Bam! Bam! But it didn't feel like they were hurring through it to be someplace else.

The Steely Dan show 2009 has a bit more air in songs and between songs. Is it just me or did they slow down Two Against Nature?

Villa Conatrini in Piazzola sul Brenta outside Padova was a great place to listen to Steely Dan live. Under an Italian evening sky that even managed to deliver a storm with lightning that came creeping closer during the first few songs jut to pull back and then stop altogether.
The air was warm and I had a great time.

After the show the place quickly shut down. Which didn't stop me from experiencing what the centre of Piazzola sul Brenta feels like at 2:34 AM. And I've got a 30 second video of it:

video

Perugia was in the middle of the Umbria Jazz Festival and Steely Dan played a longer set while the audience was slightly more engaged and active in the proceedings. Another outdoor arena on a warm night. Another fine show.

P.S.
As I said to a non-audience member after the Padova show; I'm there to have a good time so I'm not looking for the small wrongs but the big right in the whole of the show. Or something like that. It sounded profound and like an insight at the time and I still stand by it. :)

What was played:

Padova/Piazzola sul Brenta - - -

Time Out Of Mind
Bodhisattva
Show Biz Kids
Bad Sneakers
Two Against Nature
Black Friday
Aja
Hey Nineteen
Parker's Band
Babylon Sisters
Glamour Profession
Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More
Green Earrings
Love is Like an Itchin' In My Heart + band intros
Josie
Peg

Encore:
Kid Charlemagne

Perugia - - -

Reelin' In The Years (new version)
Time Out of Mind
Bodhisattva
I Got The News
Show Biz Kids
Black Friday
Home At Last
Bad Sneakers
Two Against Nature
Hey Nineteen
Aja
Parker's Band
Babylon Sisters
Daddy Don't Live In That New York City No More
Green Earrings
Love Is Like An Itchin In My Heart + band intros
Peg
My Old School

Encore:
Kid Charlemagne

Finally a great big thank you to all the firnly, fun and helpful people I met on the trip and who helped me get to see a great band make beautiful music in a beautiful land. You all know who you are.

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