Steely Dan Concert Review, Austin, TX 8/28/2013
Steely Dan was in town last night at the Bass Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Texas. I got tickets during the presale and scored stage left balcony, 7th row. The rows were angles and the view was absolutely incredible.
I’ve been a big Steely Dan fan since I was a little kid. That primarily came from my brother Robert (RIP) and Mom who were both big fans. Their work in the 70s is absolutely incredible. Lots of folks dub them a lounge rock band, and that’s not really far from the truth. But the musicianship this band has displayed since day one is something to note, not to mention the hotshots that have been part of the band throughout the years.
In tow with me for the show were my best friend Amelia, her brother and Billy Milano. Yes, THAT Billy Milano. I met Billy shortly after moving to Austin and we’ve been pals ever since. He’s a good dude and absolutely hilarious. He’s also a huge Steely Dan fan. When he saw that I had one spare ticket, he said to me in his still thick NY/Nj accent, “Sean…you better hold that fuckin’ Steely Dan ticket for me!” Yes sir!
I got to the venue first and while hanging out talking with some folks who were looking for tickets, one of the guys said, “Hey, that dude was Christopher Cross.” I said ‘sure enough’ and just walked up and said that I was a big fan and asked if we could do a quick photo. “I’d love to.” Click! He asked if I had ever seen the band before and I said no, but have wanted to since I was a kid. “You’ll love it.” He’s originally from San Antonio and has been doing a lot of stuff around Austin in the last few years. I need to go check one of the shows out for sure. I truly am a fan of his first few albums and the “yacht rock” genre in general.
My friends arrived right after that, we walked in, grabbed a drink and found our seats. There was a little jazz blues trio called the Deep Blue Organ Trio and they were solid, primarily playing covers as instrumentals. They closed with a fantastic version of Sinatra’s The Way You Look Tonight.
After a quick set change, Steely Dan’s backup band dubbed The Bipolar All-stars opened up with an instrumental then Donald Fagen and Walter Becker walked out and they went right into “Your Gold Teeth” from Countdown to Ecstasy. They played a good cross section of their hits and deeper cuts as you’ll see in the setlist below. It was a great show and Fagen’s vocals still sounded pretty good for age 65. Becker wasn’t doing a lot of soloing but when he did he sounded good. They had another kick ass player on most leads. But I have to say what took the cake for me was the drummer, Keith Carlock. That dude was absolutely incredible and to be honest stole the show.
If I had to say I was a little disappointed it would be that they didn’t play Deacon Blues. Mom always said that song reminded her of Robert and it does that for me, too. Not just in the last year after his death but throughout my whole life. If the song came on the radio she’d say, “There’s Robert’s song.” It’s probably good that they skipped that song for the Austin show as I don’t know how well I would have kept my emotions in check. They also didn’t play “Do It Again”, which is one Billy really wanted to hear. Finally, if I was able to pick the setlist, Green Earrings would have been in there. That’s my #1 by them. “Don’t Take Me Alive” would have been awesome to hear as well.
Overall, the show was 10/10 and the Bass Concert Hall is a phenomenal place to see a show. The sound in there is absolutely stellar. Another great concert in a great town with great friends.
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