Steely Dan Closed their 2021 Absolutely Normal American Tour at the Syracuse Landmark Theater on Tuesday November 23. The fully renovated Landmark has reached its peak performance potential after this year’s final renovations of the seats and the legendary marquee that has been on Salina St since 1928.
Walter Becker and Donald Fagen’s musical concepts they first drafted up together in Brooklyn in 1968 still hits in today’s music world. Donald and Walter received honorary Berklee Degrees, four Grammy Awards and inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001
Steely Dan always brought the highest quality caliber of musicians to work on their catalog in the studio throughout the years. The musicians on the Landmark Theater stage were part of the unbroken chain of greats to contribute their voice on this music. Ana Popovic covered Steely Dan’s Night by Night at Homer Center for the Arts last month.
The band now boasts another all-star lineup: it includes Keith Carlock on drums; “Ready” Freddie Washington on bass; Jim Beard, keyboards; Jon Herington, guitar; Walt Weiskopf and Roger Rosenberg, saxes; Michael Leonhart, trumpet; Jim Pugh, trombone; and vocalists Carolyn Leonhart, Catherine Russell, LaTanya Hall and Cindy Mizelle.
The group just released Northeast Corridor celebrating their first live album since 1995. From the comfortable corridor of Rochester, NY drummer Steve Gadd was able to contribute on the iconic studio recording for the title track off “Aja” in 1977.
Fagen revealed that the song was inspired by a relative of someone he knew, who married a Korean woman by the name of Aja. He explained that the song was about the “tranquillity that can come of a quiet relationship with a beautiful woman.” When asked to play drums on this song Gadd was instructed “to play like hell”. He certainly did set the tone for any Drummer to take it on a live stage over the years. The song is a jazz fusion masterpiece and completely killed on the Landmark stage.
The Syracuse crowd got a funk composition tale about an old San Francisco audio artist and LSD chemist named Owsley Stanley. Becker and Fagen named him and the track “Kid Charlemagne” off their heavily illustrated Royal Scam Album. The life of Owsley was worth noting musically as he created the Grateful Dead’s infamous “Wall of Sound” for a tour of the world and supplied the Beatles with LSD during their Magical Mystery Tour recording. Nicknamed “Bear” you can still see his art spirit as the legendary “Dancing Bear” of The Grateful Dead brand. Peg…it will come back to you. you see it all in 3-D, its your favorite foreign movie
Reeling in all the years of this musics catalog was celebrated during the encore. Before playing the classic Fagen dedicated the song to the Landmarks newest legend. Not the Ghost of Clarissa who is said to be seen in the balcony but of a naked man who was found living inside the theater’s walls last month. “Did you hear about that? this song goes out to that guy” He thanked all of their legendary crew and stagehand that were part of the tour closing show in Syracuse. How appropriate for Donald to sing ahead of the holiday week… When Black Friday comes I’m gonna dig myself a hole, gonna lay down in it , Til I satisfy my soul.
Donald Fagen has taken on a Ray Charles glow behind his shades in front of the piano still playing off this musical concept he founded in Brooklyn with Becker. Music to be played improvisational and in the moment on any given night. Donald told Variety magazine this year about his old band mate Walter Becker and their work…When Walter and I were together, I think there was something more journalistic.
Steely Dan – Landmark Theater, Syracuse New York – November 23, 2021 (Tour Finale)
Setlist: Phantom Riders, Night by Night, Hey Nineteen, Black Friday, Aja, Kid Charlemagne, FM, Time Out of My Mind, The Goodbye Look, Home at last, Dirty Work, Crusaders, Josie, Peg, Bodhisivattah,
Encore: Reelin in the Years, A Man Aint supposed to Cry