Steely Dan has never fit snugly into any musical category. Many rock fans view the band as soft and too jazzy, while jazz purists deride their pop sensibilities. But it was that diversity that contributed to a first-rate performance at the Pearl.
Founding members Donald Fagen (lead vocals, keyboards) and Walter Becker (guitar) were joined by eight musicians (including four horn players) and three backup vocalists, all of whom were essential to an 18-song set list that was chock-full of classic-rock radio hits and fan favorites.
Drummer Keith Carlock highlighted the end of a tight rendition of “Aja,” flying around his kit with dynamic precision, while guitarist Jon Herington accentuated songs such as “Bodhisattva” and “Green Earrings” with clean, melodic Larry Carlton-inspired riffs. And although Becker deferred to Herington most of the evening, he stepped to the forefront during “Black Friday,” “Josie” and “Time Out of Mind.” The band brought its largely baby-boomer fan base out of its seats with a closing run of hits “Peg,” “Reelin’ in the Years,” “My Old School” and “Kid Charlemagne.”
With its patented blend of accessible tunes and top-notch musicianship, the band delivered a performance that was familiar yet seemed fresh all at the same time.