The crowd was decidedly white collar: doctors, lawyers, hedge fund managers. They were the type of men who secretly rocks out to a diet of classic rock in their Mercedes on the morning commute before entering a sterile office environment void of any fun stuff. They poured into the Old National Centre to see Steely Dan, a band fronted by a couple guys who, ironically, had probably beaten up the very types of men who now pack their houses.
Walter Becker and Donald Fagen looked like classic New York City weirdos, sporting thrift store attire and a detached air that is their trademark. These men led their 11-piece band on a smooth, yet rocking run down on Steely Dan history.
The band, called the Bi-Polar All-Stars, were the crème-de-crop of the Manhattan jazz and soul scene, and their flawless playing was at times almost too perfect, too true to the originals. Still, for the most part, the band was a joy to behold. The backup singers were both smoking hot and sang like angels, and the horn section was perfect, especially on the band's later more jazz-tinged output. Really, only a world-class super band could do this music any justice.
Becker, provided an improv rap on "Hey Nineteen" that was funny and grooving, he busted out a few awesome leads and even sang lead on "Monkey in Your Soul," but mainly stayed in the shadow of guitarist Jon Herington, whose dazzling lead work on "Bodhisattva" transformed the song into a southern boogie that Duane Allman his self would be proud of.
For his part, Donald Fagen mostly stayed behind the organ and ran the show seamlessly. His vocal work was awesome, infusing the proceeding with the classic Steely Dan sound with lots of feeling and little effort. Drummer Keith Carlock was the only band member who had the fire and cahones to upstage Fagan. His drumming, especially on "Aja" and "I Got The News" was ruthless and unwavering, reminiscent of a young Stu Copeland, which makes sense, as Carlock also plays in Sting's band.
Overall, the Dan pulled out a set that covered all the bases with lots of classic favorites ("Peg", "Reeling The Years") and a few deep cuts and newer songs that gave the crowd ample bathroom breaks to relieve their overactive prostrates. In contrast to other '70s dinosaurs walking the Earth right now, this was neither a late in life desperation grab for lost glory nor a corporatist money grab. No, this was just one of the '70s best acts putting on a damn fine musical display of top notch chops and world class songwriting.