It was only fitting to end a 47 city tour in “our hometown” as Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen told the Beacon Theater crowd on the opening night of a seven show residency at the famed New York City venue.
The thirteen-member entourage played Aja from start to finish, after a short opening set from the Deep Blue Organ Trio , before treating concert goers to a “greatest hits” set that included “Hey Nineteen”, “Reelin’ In The Years” and “Kid Charlemagne.” The band included New Yorkers Jim Beard on keyboards, singers Carolyn Leonhart – Escoffery and Catherine Russell, as well as trumpeter Michael Leonhart, trombonist Jim Pugh, baritone saxophonist Roger Rosenberg and saxophonist Walt Weiskopf, which gave the evening even more of a local flavor.
Standouts from Aja that brought the mostly baby boomer crowd to its’ feet were the title track , “Deacon Blues” , “Peg” and “Home At Last”, boasting just the right blend of lush trumpet and subtle guitar , along with Donald Fagen’s ageless vocals. Perfect background vocal harmonies added a perfect touch to “Black Cow”.
Renditions of “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and “My Old School” drew even more raves from the audience, and Walter Becker took the lead on his interpretation of Joe Tex’s “I Want To (Do Everything for You)”, before introducing the band members, giving each one brief solos, to show off their considerable musical talents.
Walter Becker and Donald Fagan have come a long way since their days when they toured with Jay & The Americans just over 40 years ago. Donald Fagen said that they really enjoy performing live these days, as “….the venues and the menus and the hotels and everything have gotten better. So now, it’s much more fun to play. I ‘m glad that we turned into a big-time touring band later in life. It’s almost like we planned it out that way”. “Mood Swing” concert goers were in agreement and enjoyed themselves as well.
-Howard B. Leibowitz