Seeing Steely Dan at the Beacon is a long-standing Libby & Matthew tradition. Since 2011, when we bought tickets to Rarities Night and were treated to the only performance EVER of “The Second Arrangement,” we’ve made it a point to meet in the city and see The Dan perform a hometown show.
Our show was “By Request.” We requested “The Second Arrangement,” but I would have been happy with “King of the World.” Matthew bought me a Beacon exclusive tee-shirt to add to my collection.
Our seats were Becker-side, between a man-spreading Steely Dad and a humorless woman who talked about how she hoped they played “Aja” (they always play “Aja”) and then talked about how Rikki Lee Jones helped her get through her first divorce. As the jazz trio started, she talked over that (“Oh, who are they? I didn’t see that that there was going to be jazz. I heard Steely Dan started an hour and a half late the other night, well, you know these union guys….”
I did not get the sense that she was ever going to shut up, so I loudly announced that I needed a drink and Matthew and I relocated to the back of the balcony, where we sat during last October’s “Greatest Hits” night on the Rockabye Gollie Angel tour.
Earlier in the day I mentioned to Matthew that my life goal was to one day buy out all the seats around me and sit alone, reigning over the other concert-goers like the Queen of Steely Dan so that I didn’t have to hear people run their mouth the whole damn time (what kind of a jackhole talks through a whole concert?) I got my wish. Not a single other person sat in our section. Marvelous!
But Don & Walt were running late. The crowd was getting restless. People were yelling, demanding they come out on stage, chanting “Steely Dan! Steely Dan!” One man screamed that he was going to miss his bus. Baby Boomers, stop acting like children.
At 9:30 they took the stage to rabid applause. I always get a little gooey when I see Donald Fagen, because I want him to be my sugar daddy. Walter Becker was wearing sweatpants and having trouble with his amp. They opened with “Bodhisattva,” an high – energy number, but one I’d heard at ever concert before. Still never fails to get my heart rate up.
“Black Cow” was next, and Donald Fagen sounded better than ever. I’ve heard him do this song twice this year, and he KILLED it.
Yes, they played “Aja,” (enjoy, sad lady we abandoned) but this time, Papa Don got out the melodica, which added some nice texture to a song I’ve never been especially fond of.
“Hey Nineteen,” complete with ramble. “A lot of people don’t know what a black cow is,” said Walt. “But around these parts, you could be beaten to death for not knowing how to make a chocolate egg cream.” The Ramble is one of the highlights of the show; no two are ever alike.
“Kid Charlemagne.” So much for By Request. Every single song here has been played already on this tour. I’m feeling a tad cheated, but hey, it’s not easy being the Queen of The Kingdom of Steely Dan. At least no one is talking behind me. And there really is no such thing as a bad Steely Dan show. No matter what, I was fucking stoked.
And then, the first of three life-affirming scenes took place. Don began to play a melody Matthew and I didn’t recognize…and then launched into “Everyone’s Gone To the Movies.” We have NEVER, in five years of Steely Dan shows, heard this one. We screamed. It was awesome.
“Godwhacker” Unlike at SPAC, the band let Don play the melodica!
The Danettes sang a lovely arrangement of “Razor Boy” like they had all eaten a fistful of Valium just before taking the stage. Dreamy, but ultimately uninspired. My feelings on Carolyn Leonhart are well documented. We’ve only heard this song one other time, in 2011.
Shit started going down just before “Black Friday” started. Our angry gentleman from before, the one concerned about missing his bus, yelled out “TEN MINUTES” like he was the fucking stage manager. How the people next to him didn’t murder him, I’ll never know, but am oddly grateful for because what happened next was the most beautiful thing that I have ever personally witnessed.
They finished the song. The man yelled “THANKS A LOT, DONALD, YOU MADE ME MISS MY BUS.” Don mopped sweat of his brow, took a drink and turned to the band. He mumbled something inaudible.
And then they played “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number.”
For those of you who aren’t wise to the ways of The Dan, let me give you the first two lines:
We hear you’re leaving, that’s okay
I thought our little wild time had just begun…
That, my friends, is Shade. That is Dark Sarcasm. That’s Steely Dan. Nobody yells at Uncle Walt and Papa Don. FUCKING NOBODY, I swear to God. And they didn’t even need me to fucking Roadhouse this guy because you fucking know I would.
“Daddy Don’t Live In That New York City No More” Walter Becker sings. Matthew, having just seen The Magnificent Seven remarks “I believe that bear’s playing a people guitar!”
“This one’s a scary song for Halloween,” says Don. “Hope you like it.” I was expecting “The Caves of Altamira” but it’s “Babylon Sisters.” Not what I’d call spooky, but I haven’t heard it live since we saw Gaucho in 2013, so it’s a welcome addition. Later, Matthew & I got in a discussion about the song. He believes that the “sister” is already in the car with our narrator. I believe that the narrator is taking his friend to a brothel to see the eponymous Babylon Sisters. Thoughts?
And the third surprise of the night, a Las Vegas style arrangement of “Do It Again,” complete with melodica. I had been hoping they’d play this at Atlantic City, so I was super-happy to hear it here. Fagen has said before that he’s not a huge fan of this one, so it was a real treat to hear them play it tonight.
“My Old School”
“Reelin’ In The Years”
I was honestly surprised they came out for an encore. That’s how horrible the audience was. ATTENTION BEACON THEATER GOERS ON WEDNESDAY, OCT. 19: You were the rudest, nastiest, most obnoxious audience I have EVER sat with. You all should be ASHAMED of yourselves. You are grown fucking adults. The majority of you are my dad’s age, and you all acted like a bunch of spoiled children at a Chuck E. Cheese. Bus Guy, I hope you got hit by your bus. Middle-aged dudes screaming “fuck you, fucker!” while I tried to sneak through your petty bullshit on my way to the ladies room, take a fucking Xanax and chill your Trump-voting asses DOWN. Don and Walt don’t cater to your fucking demands, you rotten pieces of shit. Grow. The. Fuck. Up, enjoy the show, sing “Yes there’s gas in the car” during the appropriate section of “Kid Charlemagne” and CLAP, motherfuckers, you fucking CLAP LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER CLAPPED BEFORE, AM I MAKING MYSELF PERFECTLY CLEAR, ASSHOLES?!?
But they DID come out for an encore of “Pretzel Logic,” because they are professionals and amazing and I love Donald Fagen more than I have ever thought humanly possible.