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Steely Dan – Summer Pops
by Ste-ely Conner
After months of anticipation not to mention the initial jaw dropping euphoria after hearing the news that it was actually Steely Dan & not Nearly Dan (no disrespect like) who would be playing Liverpool, alright then Aintree if you wanna be pedantic, the fateful evening was finally upon us. After arriving in style - a 1982 Cortina Mark 5 Crusader in Poo Brown, fact fans (which was actually pointed out by a certain online magazine uberlord when I erroneously stated that the vehicle that had conveyed us was in fact a Mark 2 Escort) being the chosen mode of transport, we joined the SAGA convention outside the Rocking Horse to meet up with the fine body of gents that constitute the Swine War Council before going in.
On a personal level, a certain nervousness was defo in effect as I had a feeling that there was no way they could ever live up to my expectations – this was after all the first time they’d ever played in our fair city, apparently they were meant to play the Liverpool Stadium in 1975 but were bumped off the bill by Mitzi Mueller’s first & most legendary face-off with Klondike Kate – when I was incidentally 6 & consequently not best placed to appreciate the jazz-pop stylings of the Dan. Anyhoo, we soon swilled down our flagons of Roosters Ol’ Cockrot & made our way into the Race Course amid a Police presence that rivalled Charlotte Street on Derby day – Dan fans obviously being notoriously violent racidivists. I then did the owl comedy “Ooh, I can’t find me brief” while being serenaded by some tuneless plums rendition of “Peg” in what appeared to be the queue for the Corkscrew (cheers Degsy), ticket found & panic over we then made our way in. Apparently the support turn was an Organ Trio or somesuch who’d played on the American leg of the “Heavy Rollers” tour with the Dan, which led some to (somewhat ludicrously in hindsight) posit the notion that maybe their USP was that they were all missing a vital organ apiece & came on stage wheeling dialysis machines, iron lungs & other such life preserving medical equipment – we’re dead funny us y’know.
As it was I couldn’t tell you if that was indeed the case as we were far too busy indulging in pre-gig lager & smoke frenzy outside the main arena. The move of the Summer Pops from Bootle to Aintree seems to have worked out fine, in fact they’ve even utilised the same temporary seating that was used at previous years events (not including Floyd at Earls Court in 89 somewhat thankfully) but anyway, enough already with the blather, the witching hour was upon us. We entered the well appointed conference facility to the strains of Augustus Pablo – hats off to the erm, “selectah” for that – bet that was a first. The lights dimmed & the Steely Dan orchestra were suddenly in full effect – sans the 2 main protagonists natch, the hired hands expertly flew through an introductory jazz number which may have been East St Louis Toodle-oo (lets face it Pretzel Logic languishes in a relegation position in the SPL-esque Dan album league table) but was actually far far better than I’ve made it sound.
Then the big entrance, well Becker sauntered on in jeans & tee wielding a blue Strat, while the altogether more suave Fagen plumped for a black suit, pumps & melodica combo for opener “Time Out Of Mind” – at least that’s what I could glean with my admittedly dodgy mince’s from back in Row U. What then followed was nigh on 2 hours of pure musical bliss, if you’re a Dan fan & the following doesn’t have you salivating like Kia Joorabchian over an impoverished South American youngster with a flair for soccer ball – Aja, Peg, Home At Last, Bad Sneakers, God Whacker, Two Against Nature, Dirty Work, I Got The News, Hey Nineteen, Green Earrings, Haitian Divorce, Kid Charlemagne, Josie, FM, My Old School, then there really is no hope for you. It was & I use this advisedly as close to musical perfection as it has ever been my privilege to witness live, Becker & Fagen also being on fine form with Becker’s spoken interlude on Hey Nineteen being a particular highlight – not too sure about his “Scowzers here, Scowzers there, Scowzers every-fockin’-where” exhortation, but that small gripe aside they did more than live up to my expectations – to be fair they blew them right out of the water & you can’t ask for more than that. Oh & hats off to whoever decided that a life size model of Red Rum would prove to be a handy prop for the encore.
Here's hoping someone filmed it for a DVD as I for one feel that this was one of those few rare occasions where one would be wholly merited.
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