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Monthly Archives: July 2022

Last Saturday night, July 23, I saw Steely Dan for the first time, at the rather nice Mahaffey Theater in downtown St. Petersburg. The show was stellar. Without the presence of the late Walter Becker, Donald Fagen and his backing band still put on a captivating set, one marked by uncommonly skilled musicianship that never felt self-indulgent or unfocused. I had a seat near the front and it was a treat to witness the full band bringing their A game. The funk was present; it rocked here and there; everyone was in the pocket, and it was the opposite of boring.

It’s worth noting that I haven’t always liked Steely Dan’s music. It can be an acquired taste, and hit differently depending on mood and context, as well as one’s age. Despite the band’s enduring popularity, their mode of soft jazzy rock (if you will) has been characterized as polarizing, owning in part to an incongruity at times between the disarming sounds at hand and lyrics (and subject matter) that might be described as acerbic. It was only about a year into the current pandemic, amid my forties, that things started to click, aided in no small part by my friend Will being a superfan. I would say that if someone attended a Steely Dan show like that of the other night and remained unconvinced, little else might sway them, as it was a flattering presentation and fun to behold–the real deal!