This is a funny town. Crowds in LA are probably the toughest in the country (maybe the world). They've seen it all, and have lots of choices of things to do. As a result, concerts can be odd events. I was able to have a pretty direct comparison between Steely Dan playing last Friday down in San Diego (outdoor amphiteater), and last night in Los Angeles (indoor Amphitehater). Exact same set list exact for "Everything Must Go" (played last night..an ode to the end of the tour I think) for "The Last Mall."
In San Diego, I was actually suprised by how loose the band seemed. And not musically (they were dead on perfect and tight), but rather their demeanor. Fagan was downright personable, coming out wearing a Funkadelic sweatshirt, and seeming at ease and faving fun. The rest of the band also had plenty of smiles. Last night fagan seemed a bit tighter. The biggest difference was Herington...it looked like he really didn't want to be there. Maybe the night before with Dean Parks sitting in was weird? I don't know...but the only time I saw him smile was during FM...the last tune of the night.
Becker made a comment about coming 30 years later to where their career started, but I think they always had a love-hate relationship with LA. Becker and Fagan are east coast boys, NY through and through although these days Becker lives in Hawaii (he's no fool).
To the credit of the crowd, they actually were very responsive. Highly animated by LA standards. Much singing along, especially for the encore tunes of "My Old School" and "FM." Other "LA" tunes like "Babylon Sisters" also got big receptions, as did most all of the early stuff, with tunes from Aja and Gaucho being the crowd favs. Keith Carlock was amazing again. He is one of the hottest drummer I've EVER heard or seen. I actually shed a tear or two during "Home at Last." Carlock has the Purdie Shuffle down pat, and takes it to new levels. And the band played such beautiful music. Michael Leonhart's horn arrangments are just amazing and sweet.
It's funny because I listened to the first 5 SD albums over and over again during my "lost years." At certain points, I wasn't sure if I'd ever live to hear the songs again, let alone see them played live. I've been lucky enough to see SD now on 4 different tours ('93 at the Greek in LA, '94 at Mountain View in the Bay Area, '00 at Coors Amphitheater in San Diego, and '03 at Coors and Universal Amphitheater in LA). Given all the things going on in my life right now, these past two shows really stuck a chord (pun intended). There is much work to be done, and I don't know where I'll end up, or who I'll end up being. But I can say that I have heros, human though they may be. Thanks Don and Walt, for writing the tunes I wish I had, and setting the bar so damn high. Now I've just got to jump.