Stevie Winwood/Steely Dan
Rod Laver Arena
I went to the first/last Steely Dan show the last time they were here and it just made good sense to see them again.
A friend of mine told me about a Mexican Restaurant in Mount Waverly: Nachos Mexican Cantina. I usually go to Taco Bills, but I thought I'd give them a go. Good food albeit a little pricey.
They opened at 6:00, but they were a bit slow, so it was 7:00 before I left and the show started at 7:30. Programmed the GPS to Rod Laver Arena and took of post haste. I arrived ten minutes before the show started and immediately went "OH NO" when I saw that the old car park had disappeared under a construction site. I drove around and by good fortune rather than planning I found parking by the M.C.G. and took the overhead walkways to the arena.
I arrived a few minutes after 7:30 only to be hit by another obstacle. When I ripped out my ticket from the A4 sheet it's mounted in, I also ripped off the barcode! Oops! Now what? Thankfully, one good attendant took my ticket and had another made, so I was in business. Found my seat which was a bit of a chore as the lights were down and I was fumbling around trying to find my seat. I really wasn't stressed out, I knew I'd finally get there.
As it turned out I arrived halfway through SW's first song: I'm A Man! The sound was slightly odd and it took me a little while to work out what that was: No bass player! The bass was provided by the Hammond B3 organ foot pedals, that's novel. Stevie's voice was a good as ever but his virtuosity on solos seemed rather stilted, especially the organ solos, they just didn't go anywhere. This made the overall performance a bit bland.
Steely Dan by contrast, sounded great. The band was enormous, twelve piece, with three female backing vocalists and a four piece brass section, a wonderful full sound. Whoever was playing the keyboards in the back row was very, very good, most impressed. He nailed all of the keyboard parts, leaving Donald Fagen to fumble around on his keyboard. That didn't matter, he still carried of his vocals just like the recordings.
I do so wish Walter Becker would just shut up sometimes. He was annoying me with playing the same sort of solos in every song. Always confined to a couple of frets from the tenth fret. Just didn't need it. Very repetitive.
For some reason the bass player just didn't cut it. It was almost as if he didn't have the confidence to do his part, he almost seemed intimidated by the occasion.
The light show was very impressive. Not because it was over the top, more for it's subtleness and very clever use of the effects. The lights were used to great effect to highlight the musicians when they had a solo, or even a stab, the lights would come on at just the right time for EVERY musician in the band. No faceless muso's in this lineup.
You know they really could have played all night and then some. They have such a rich back catalogue of music, picking songs must have been hard.
Another novel feature this was that the brass section got to feature both at the start and the end of the show. These guys were top jazz players and each muso had a chance to solo almost Bluegrass style.
The encore was Stevie Winwood singing/playing Pretzel Logic with the Steely Dan. He sang behind the beat which didn't do it for me, but there you go.
Very glad to have heard this concert.