STEELY DAN | 05.25 & 05.26 | PHILLY

Words by: Martin Halo :: Images by: Rod Snyder

Steely Dan :: 05.25.07 & 05.26.07 :: Tower Theater :: Upper Darby, PA

Steely Dan :: 05.25 :: Pennsylvania
With the towering buildings of downtown Philadelphia now a distant memory, the outskirts of the city reflect the vise of poverty. Men sit on stoops in front of their humid homes while the sun genuflects in the face of an impending evening cool. Curbside preachers spit religious verse as the city's western edge unveils the cultural district of Upper Darby.

Glistening gallantly on her thrown of harmonious dominance stands the Tower Theater, an awaiting crowd shielding her doors from the passing motorists. Road cases bearing the name Steely Dan could be seen rolling down back alleyways towards the Tower's stage door.

The jazz-rock icons, who released their last collaborative effort in 2003 (Everything Must Go), saddled up the tour buses again to embark on a world tour that will keep them on the road through September. Dubbed the "Heavy Rollers Tour," Steely Dan descended upon Darby for two nights of '70s benchmark classics, catalog gems and jazz inspired fusion.

Steely Dan :: 05.25 :: Pennsylvania
Donald Fagan (piano/vox) and Walter Becker (guitar) took the stage promptly at 9 p.m. with a supporting cast of Keith Carlock (drums), Jon Herington (guitar) and Freddie Washington (bass). With the Tower's glowing artwork gazing down upon the laid back audience, a feeling of unmatched comfort descended as the ensemble explored their soft rock decadence.

Fagan sat behind his Fender Rhodes, his eyes concealed behind dark glasses. As if fighting against the magnetic pull of the microphone, his body gyrated as he delivered lyrical bursts. Becker commanded the majority of lead guitar work with an array of cleanly expelled phrases.

The absence of brawn and grit to the performance left the crowd glued to their seats but that doesn't mean that the show didn't dazzle. With a horn section and backup singers of ungodly temptation providing harmonies, the set had body with a broad tone that echoed off the Tower's walls.

Steely Dan :: 05.25 :: Pennsylvania
Fagan addressed the faithful with his unmistakable rasp, "We are going to be digging deep back into the '70s tonight." They then launched into "Josie" off 1977's Aja, later followed by the title track. Waitresses engulfed the audience with trays of alcoholic delights but what the heart craved was a silver platter from the Medellin Cartel. The performance personified FM radio's golden era, and the demeanor of the audience reflected just that - mellow, still and attentively quiet.

With horns blaring at Becker's back, Herington's secondary guitar work showcased his thin, basic licks. Next up was the title track off 2000's Two Against Nature. Additional selections included "Dirty Work" from their 1972 debut and "Hey Nineteen" from 1980's Gaucho.

With tints of purple and blue dominating the euphoric sense of seeing Steely Dan in an atmosphere of complete relaxation, a heightened awareness of their onstage brilliance washed over the capacity crowd. The only thing missing from this performance was a rendition of "Ricky Don't Loose That Number," which for some reason holds an unshakeable spot in my morning shower setlist.

JamBase | Pennsylvania
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[Published on: 6/27/07]

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RobHornfeck starstarstarstarstar Wed 6/27/2007 06:25PM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Gotta love the Dan!

matthau starstar Wed 6/27/2007 06:33PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

So yeah it is nice to see Dan on Jambase, their influence is felt far and wide in the music world. The review was pretty good, but I want to comment on a few things. I have seen Dan many times, some balls to the wall shows and some just decent ones. However, all Dan shows are funky and danceable.The main reason people sit at Dan shows is because it's an older crowd, not becasue of a lack of "brawn and grit". Also, John Herrington is a very technical guitarist,none of his solos are ever "thin and basic". Herrington is more technical then Becker.I am always dazzled by his licks. He has a nice and clean guitar tone.

kaiserbun Wed 6/27/2007 08:38PM
Show -5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
mgizmo Wed 6/27/2007 09:43PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Never can understand why people go to a show and sit motionless the whole time. I can't help dancing. I saw Derek Trucks last week with Susan Tedeschi and it was at this casino in Washington. The crowd was so DEAD. From where I was standing, people looked like they were watching a movie.

Anyway, I saw Steely Dan at the Gorge in 2003 and it was awesome. They do have some crazy ass fans too who kept us awake all night howling like monkeys at the campground. Anyway, I just think its weird, not bad that people like to sit down. To each their own, more space for me to dance.

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/28/2007 04:17AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

steely dan makes some of the most timeless music.
I have never seen them but everytime they come to atlanta the damn tickets are 100 dollars!!!! damn, I will pay maybe 50. but I cannot do more than that. peace.

hatfieldsbro starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/28/2007 06:49AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Waitresses engulfed the audience with trays of alcoholic delights but what the heart craved was a silver platter from the Medellin Cartel.


Flyingbird73 starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/28/2007 08:05AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Yeah, that Cartel line snuck right in there nicely, kudos.

It could very well just be me, but I find The Royal Scam to be the most underrated of their catalogue and one of the more underrated albums of that era in gen'l. Seems to have the most continuity and bite of all their albums, I find it to be a true gem. Well, that's my 2 cents, it's all we're alotted I suppose. Cool to have a Dan review.

sunnbear starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/28/2007 08:45AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Everything that Steely Dan does is pure gold! Fagan is one of the best story tellers in our universe. Really check out some of his lyrics. Nothing more needs to be said!

All Loving Liberal White Guy Thu 6/28/2007 08:56AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

All Loving Liberal White Guy

Awesome review especially the Medellin line. "Can't Buy Me a Thrill" and Countdown to Ecstacy"; best Steely Dan albums.....EVER!

2Heavy starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/28/2007 09:09AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


One of my favorites groups, period. I was at the 26th show and it was incredible, as 'The Dan' never disapoints(however the majority of the people in attendance will). Every show of theirs I have been to I literally have to check for pulses to make sure people are alive. How you can possibly sit still and motionless during a show is beyond me. Towards the end of the show we 'svenghali-ed' past the security and went to the front of the stage to dance. This lady who was sitting front row actually kicked me in the back of my leg, no matter I danced through like it was no thing.
Anyway, their musical influence can be seen in so much of today's music, it is just unbelievable. People don't give them the respect and gratitude they deserve. Nice work jambase, however I would have added 3or 4 more pages of content.

gwilder starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/28/2007 01:41PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

How cool is it to have a Dan article?!?! My dad was really into them and I always kind of wrote them off, but I've started listening lately and they're pretty damn cool. Fagen's lyrics ARE pretty amazing--very weird and cool--and I think some of Becker's solos are up there w/ Zappa as far as intricacy and shape.
Thanks for the write-up Martin!

21mmer Thu 6/28/2007 04:12PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


steely dan albums are impeccable. they consistantly put together probably the best studio musicians to play with, and it shows.

oh yea, how they got their name is pretty funny too.

karacter0 starstarstarstarstar Thu 6/28/2007 08:34PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


This venue was miserably hot! I paid $100 face value to see the show on the 25th. It was so uncomfortable that I spent the whole night standing in the consessions area at the far back!

and why does Fagan insist on keeping "Dirty Work" in the set list if he can't even sing it. I didn't come to hear backup singers sing the whole song :(

...but what about Rretzel Logic and Kid Charlemagne at the end of the show! I was glad to be in attendance for these two and many others.

kcPHisher Thu 6/28/2007 10:45PM
Show -6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
guitardave starstar Fri 6/29/2007 08:06AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Fagan never sang "Dirty Work"; its a David Palmer vocal from "Can't Buy A Thrill". Jon Herington is an awesome guitar player in one of the most coveted and scrutinized axe gigs in the business. KcPhisher can't even spell elevator so I won't even dignify his comments with a response.

2Heavy starstarstarstarstar Fri 6/29/2007 08:49AM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


David Palmer also contributed the song "Silhouette" to the 1985 film Teen Wolf. The song plays during the house party sequence where Scott and Boof particpate in Styles' "games".
Ha! Nice one guitardave, It's Elivatour, right?
Why do people spend their time writing negative feedback on these boards? Steely Dan should be in the top 10 of greatest bands of all time. Period.

Sueshi starstarstarstar Fri 6/29/2007 11:15AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Steely Dan always puts on a great show, Donald and Walter surround themselves with the best studio and touring musicians and singers. Their albums are some the finest music recorded, their songs are a wonderful blend of jazz, R&B and rock, and it's nice to see them touring occasionally these days, even though in the old days they were always a better studio "band". I saw their set at New Orleans Jazz fest this year.

Makisupa_McGee Fri 6/29/2007 05:12PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



Im 25 and have seen the Dan 3 times over a span of around 8 years (thanks dad), and for that I feel so lucky. Im also real encouraged cuz the last show was easily the best (they were all sick) which tells me that age hasnt started slowing them down yet.

Steely, is by far my favorite band from a previous generation.

At the last Umphreys show I saw a few weeks ago they did a sick Hey 19 and I was loving it strong.

I only wish this tour had them out here on the west coast.

petemora starstarstarstarstar Thu 7/5/2007 12:05PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

mduva" your scott baio pic rocks. If some sittin on her ass beeyotch kicked me at a show I'd eat some concession stand food and fart in her face.

PCPrabbit Fri 7/6/2007 08:58AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i guess i'm a lounge lizard.

RoJo420 Fri 7/6/2007 01:30PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Seen Dan twice, and the show I caught this tour (Portsmouth) didn't touch the show I saw in 2001, though certainly tight and well played. The crowd is about as depressing as it gets. Seriously people don't even look like they're having fun. At one point, Donald was like "You guys are crazy!", or something to that degree.

Plus, from what I saw Walter pretty much shared lead guitar with Herington which I was suprised at, with Herington taking the majority of the solos. Both are great, so no complaints there.

We'll need to have a huge group meet up for a future Dan show and show these boring ass old timers how to have some fun at a show.

bassguy1981 star Mon 7/9/2007 12:59AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

steely dan is the best. no kidding people sit down with jaws dropped watching them. they are the essence of songwriting and musicianship. god bless'em

shoestringstrap starstarstarstar Wed 7/11/2007 10:22AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Regarding Fagen not singing on Dirty Work: He didn't sing on it on the original album cut either. It was sung by David Palmer. It's not that he "can't" sing it...Listen to the album cut again and notice that that ain't Donald Fagen.

And Jon Herington Rips, so I have to disagree on the simple basic licks thing.