Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Steely Dan Rarities night September 17, 2011

Radio Dupree attended the in Steely Dan terms historical third of seven nights at The Beacon Theatre, New York as part of the 2011 tour.
Don't expect a review as the person in question is more of an "enjoyer" than reviewer of concerts. He is also a long time fan of Steely Dan, and as such any review could be seen as biased. Anyhow, here's a short report from the trenches:

Fantastic! Fantasticker! Fantastickest!
The Beacon Theatre is a relly beautiful place to attend a show. I've heard criticism of the acoustics of the place, but where I sat the sound was good.
Billed the Rarities evening this was the show where Steely Dan would play "The unreleased, the mythic, the reborn, the rarely-if-ever-heard; On this numinous Night of Nights, all will be revealed (along with additional selected favorites and hits)".

Among the Steely Dan fans there had been a few critical voices who have called the setlists for the past couple of tours static and repetative.
These critics said that Rarities night would be nothng but moe of the same. With the already played Gaucho outtake The Bear being the only exception. But they were proven wrong.

As a casual fan or someone just familiar with the hits an evening of b-sides and seldom played album tracks would've been a disappointment. And that's why a few of the hits were includedand I am sure it did please the guy near me that after Bodhisattva screamed: "Yeah!" "Fuck the rarities. Thats someting else!" "Fuckin' a!" "Dont play another rarity!"
That was 1 hour and 20 minutes into the 2.5 hour show, and he probably felt let down when Donald announced the next song. The mythical Holy Grail for many a Steely Dan fan; The Second Arrangement.

It's the song that was recorded during the Gaucho album sessions and mistakenly erased. A bad sounding tape copy surfaced and did the rounds among bootleg collectors and I surely hadn't expected to hear it live more than 30 years after it was recorded. And erased.

If that was a song a few fans had speculated might be on the setlist for Rarities night, I think no one could´ve guessed that an oldie from the pre-Steely Dan era might make itto the setlist this evening. Catherine Russell took care of the lead vocals for American Lovers that Fagen/Becker wrote and one Thomas Jefferson Kaye recorded in 1974.

Even more than the addition of songs never or rarely played did Donald's talk inbetween convey a feeling that this was for the fans. He had a great time ending with him more or less dancing his way from the stage during the final number.

If Donald was enjoying himself Walter seemed to have a rougher night. He had some trouble with his guitars with cords being changed mid-tune and during the Jack Of Speed ´96 with Walter on vocals things threatened to fall apart as part of the band from time to time was in different places of the song. As Donald commented after the final note they had "missed some changes".

When the show was over and the lights went up I could only look around at the golden walls of The Beacon. Surprised and stunned at what I'd seen and heard. Didi it r-e-a-l-l-y happen? Overjoyed that I had made that show the one to fulfill the promise made to myself a few years ago: To see Steely Dan live in the USA.

And there's more to come! While I didn't see the Aja night or this evening's The Royal Scam, I do have tickets for the two final shows. By Popular Demand night Thursday 22 and 21th Century Dan on Friday 23.

Happy times!

In addition I also got to hang out with some fans at the Amsterdam Alehouse pre-show, and The Bitter End post-show. Thanks to all for making this a truly special evening.
Plus Radio Dupree is - thanks to Reidar who's in town for all seven Beacon shows - now officially part of The Norweigian Shuffle Diplomacy Tour 2011. And we've got the tee to prove it:



angel said...

It was indeed an evening to remember and hey, wasn't the restored Beacon Theater just grand?

PGE said...

Couldn't agree more. And I saw more than one camera snapping away befor and after the band hand left the stage, trying to capture the grand interior of the Beacon.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a hardcore fan but thought that "hey, let's see if they played that lost song from Gaucho"..and voilà! Seems like a magical night.

Gwen said...

I'm confused– according to my calculations only about 5 of these 20 songs would be considered unreleased/ mythic/ rarely heard. I would've been irked to attend and then not have them play "Kulee Baba," "Oh Wow, It's You Again," or at least "Sun Mountain." Irked, I say!

Nebukadnessar Stephenson and Sigurd Huckle said...

@Gwen: Irked? I know. Some of the diehard fans also are and the dicussion is on if they should've played more rare stuff or not.
The way I see it is that with the stance Donald Fagen and Walter Becker has taken when it comes to the unreleased/bootlegged stuff getting The Bear and The Second Arrangement played live is an amazing change of fortunes.

Yes, the ideal show for the hardcore fan would be one without any Hey 19, Josie, Peg and so on and instead filled with unreleased demo songs and rarely played live. But after three nights at The Beacon I think that a show without a mjority of songs well known/hits would've been commercial suicide. And in the end making a buck is all part of the plan.

As soon as anything not assembling an oft played song on the radio appeared people (= regular concert goers/casual fans) got out of their seats to visit the restrooms or get another drink.
You'd never see me head for the door once The Royal Scam portion of the final 21st Century Dan evening had been played, but that's what a handful of people did. A noticeable amount of those sticking around got uninterested as Godwhacer, Two Against Nature or Gaslighting Abbie played.

Will we see another Rarities show with Steely Dan featuring more rarities? I doubt it...

/Neb Stephenson, Radio Dupree

Gwen said...


I suppose a *real* rareities night would have to be specifically designed FOR the diehard fans– announce the playlist in advance to allow folks who don't know the songs to say, "What's all this? I'm not paying money to go to a show where I don't know any of the songs!" And maybe a smaller venue/ more intimate setting would be in order, too. But I doubt this is the kind of show they want to invest a lot of resources into, considering live shows are their primary way of making any money these days and therefore designing a show for a SMALLER crowd isn't exactly in their best interest.

Doesn't mean it wouldn't absolutely rule the worlds of us mega-fans, though ;) I guess for now I'll just try to design the postcard from my mind.

Adam Dean said...

Hallo. Where can I find the bootleg recordings from theese shows? Thenk you.

Anonymous said...

This was a really fun show. What surprises me about most of the reviews of it though, is that the encore - This Mobile Home - is almost never mentioned. For me, this was a highpoint of the show. A super fun live tune and played with great enthusiasm, almost like a ROCK band.

As much as I was thrilled to hear The Second Arrangement, they didn't play it all that well (especially Becker, whose lead guitar was rushed throughout). The Bear was cool, as was YGT (a rarity at that point). And Pearl, I hadn't heard that before either and sounded wonderful. Also loved American Lovers, even if they did hand it off to one background singers.

Nebukadnessar Stephenson and Sigurd Huckle said...

Anonymous: Agreed!

/Neb S