It’s fair to say that ever since I first heard Steely Dan on the radio back in the late 1970’s I’ve been a huge fan, no way was I going to miss only the bands second show in Birmingham since 2007’s ‘Heavy Rollers’ Tour (and only missed the 2009 show because I was at another gig).
But before ‘The Dan’ hit the stage we were treated to a magnificent hour long set from Birmingham legend Stevie Winwood, and what a set it was. During that 60 mins we got songs from right across Mr Winwood’s career including tracks from Traffic, Spencer Davis Group, Blind Faith and solo songs too.
Steve Winwood kicked off with a stunning version of ‘I’m A Man’ but the highlight for me in the set was the incredible version of Blind Faith’s ‘Can’t Find My Way Home’…..to be honest you couldn’t fault any song during this faultless set and it was a real pleasure to witness ‘Keep On Running’, ‘Higher Love’ and ‘Dear Mr Fantasy’ live…..the set closed with ‘Gimme Some Lovin’ before the whole arena stood to celebrate what they had just witnessed.
Most of Steely Dan hit the stage just before 9pm and gave us the perfect insight to the musical masterclass we were about to witness over the next two hours with the instrumental ‘Cubano Chant’, but it was emergence of the man in black that we were all waiting for…..the legend that is Donald Fagen.
Donald took his place behind the keys at the front of the stage as the phenomenal drummer Keith Carlock led us into the awesome ‘Bodhisattva’ (my personal favourite Steely Dan track) before wheeling out ‘Hey Nineteen’, ‘Black Friday’, ‘Aja’ & ‘Green Earrings’…..this place was seriously feeling the funky vibe tonight!!!
After fantastic versions of ‘Black Cow’ & ‘Time Out Of Mind’ Donald Fagen welcomed Steve Winwood back on stage for a sublime version of ‘Pretzel Logic’…..this really was something to behold and the packed arena certainly made their feelings known with a rapturous ovation.
‘Kid Charlemagne’ was up next before a stunning version of ‘Dirty Work’ with the vocals supremely delivered by backing singers The Danette’s, that was followed by ‘Peg’ and ‘Home At Last’ before the band introductions during The Crusaders ‘Keep That Same Old Feeling’……and what a band it is with Jon Herington supplying those magical Walter Becker guitar licks in front of an incredible back line horn section…..this is a band of the highest order.
Phenomenal renditions of ‘Josie’ & ‘My Old School’ closed the main set before Donald Fagen announced that they weren’t going to bother with that whole charade of going off before the encore and just kept the vibe going with an insane version of ‘Reelin In The Years’ complete with a Keith Carlock drum solo (check this guy out on YouTube…..he is a very special player)
The band alone finished the show with a version of Joe Williams ‘A Man Ain’t Supposed To Cry’ and what a show it had been, the crowds who have flocked to see Steely Dan on this long overdue UK Tour have been treated to some amazing shows, packed full of classic tunes and played by some of the very best musicians out there.
There are critics out there who feel after the death of Walter Becker that Steely Dan should have called it a day, that is their opinion and they are entitled to it, but after this performance tonight why should Donald Fagen call it quits, will we see Steely Dan back in the UK again? Who knows…..but I tell you one thing…..they will be welcomed back by the 10,000 open arms who witnessed this stunning show tonight in Birmingham.