Into everyone's life a little scream must fall. Steely Dan at Verizon Amphitheater in Irvine. Having seen the lads in '93, '94, '00, and '03 (every year they toured excpet for '96 when I must have been asleep or something), it was a moral imperative that I attend. Harry actually pinged me about getting tickets a few days before they went onsale. I was busy with work when they went onsale, but logged on a few hours afterwards and got decent seats.
It was going to be a hectic day/night for me though, as I had business in Monterrey during the day. I changed my flight to an earlier on, getting in at 5:30pm (ha!). The plan was that S would pick me up at LAX and we'd just continue driving south to Irvine. Well, United decided that being on time really isn't a virtue, so about 6:30pm I wandered out of the terminal looking for S. Trooper that she is, she was right there, although she had done numerous laps and evidently had time to stop for coffee and do some shopping while the my flight status kept telling her, "any day now..."
Of course traffic was hellish, with annoying guy in the silver car leaving a 1/4 mile gap in front of him in the car pool lane. It had been years since I'd been to Irvine Meadows (what it was called way back when before Verizon paid big bucks to hang their name on it), and I forgot what exit and exactly how to get there. Luckily my Treo came to the rescue and a quick web search gave me directions. But the advisory sign said to take Bake Pkwy. Hmm...directions said Irvine Center. S asked which I thought, I made the command decision....Irvine Center it is. And it turned out to be the right choice, although by the time we rolled into the parking lot (free parking....wtf!?!?) it was almost full. We ended up parking near the exit. It would prove to be fortuitous.
The hike from the parking lot is hefty, but it was a beautiful evening, and I can't think of many better ways to spend it. Harry called and was somewhat lost, having taken Bake Pkwy (evidently I had made the right decision). We got to our seats, not too bad, and Michael McDonald was already playing. I kinda like him (Harry hates his guts), as I always loved his backing vocal work with Steely Day, liked some of his stuff with Doobie Brothers, and his Mowtown excursions have their moments. Harry showed up during the last song...good timing from his viewpoint.
It was interesting because while I was enjoying the music, something was missing. And that was me. Up there. On the stage. Playing the music rather than listening. Not only can I do that, but perhaps I *should* be doing that. S seems to think so. More will be revealed, and in fact, more would come to light later in the evening.
While they were setting up SD, we chatted about various stuff. Harry and I have known each other for about 30 years, and played music together on and off for most of that run. I went to the bathroom, and who knows what stories Harry was telling S. At least I've been brutally upfront about my "lost years" so I doubt there were any surprises.
The lights dropped, the band came out sans Walter and Don, and launched into some straight up jazz. Most of the usual suspects on stage, happily Keith Carlock was on drums as he was in '03 and for Fagan's solo tour. The guy is the best. Seriously. I wasn't crazy about the bass player (same one that toured with Fagan), but again that might have something to do with my whole "where should/could I be" feelings I was experiencing. The rest of the band was pretty much the same as Fagan's touring band, which was pretty much the same as the usual SD touring band. Becker's guitar was too loud, and he wasn't really on. The first few numbers were *very* rough for him. He got a little more in the groove as the evening went on, but frankly, he didn't have a particularly good night.
In fact, about half the band seemed to be not quite there. Carlock was killing as usual, and Fagan was present (albeit with some vocal/sound issues). But the backing vocalists weren't quite as alluring as they were during the Fagan show. The horns were spot on though, as usual.
There were plenty of highlights though. About 2/3s of the way through the show, during a twisted funky version of "Show Business Kids" that had the band introductions, McDonald came out on stage to play keyboards and sing. I had seen that "Do It Again" was on the setlist at earlier shows in the tour, and they didn't disappoint. This is a particular favorite of mine to see live, having seen/heard 3 or 4 show versions from the '00 tour. The usual encore with "My Old School" and "FM" were rolicking as usual, and took on a slightly different meaning these days, as S has a prep/ivy league background (Anandale reference), and she kept insisting that they were singing FM for me ("no static at all....").
Low points? Easy...some drunk fat b*tch 2 rows back who as the concert went on, kept just screaming all the time. Everyone around was pissed off at her, and finally towards the end, after she had moved down to the row right behind me, we had words. She was screaming so loud and so much that I couldn't even hear the vocals or guitar solos. I finally stood up and screamed "can you shut the hell up?" To which she started blathering about rocking out and "our soldiers are dying for her freedom." Her freedom to be a jerk and ruin everyone's concert? At that point I got really pissed and unleashed a stream of expletives. S was worried that she was going to be my "first"...no, not that first. The first person I ever hit in anger. But I didn't, just sat down. Then S tried to reason with her, but that wasn't happening either. Luckily Harry didn't hear the "soldiers dying" comment, otherwise he would have flattened her, seeing as how he just got back from a year in theater.
I contemplated throwing my coke on her...after all, she's got her freedoms, I have mine. But for the encore she decided to stumble off closer to the stage so some peace was to be had.
Well, at least peace from the screaming. There still was this nagging feeling inside of me. That I should be playing not listening. On the pitch in the stadium as opposed to in he stands or out in the parking lot. S and I talked a bit about what it would take, and of course she drilled right down to the heart of the matter: "if you don't try and tour, will you regret it?" And the answer of course is "yes." I'm not sure operationally what that means or how I'll pull it off, but I can at least take baby steps towards it. First is finding a new music situation. And playing. Because I have to.