Steely Dan at Ravinia–Bodacious Good Times at Rockabye Gollie Angel Tour

photo: Danny Clinch

"This night is going to be the best f%^$#ing night of summer 2015!" promised co-founder Walter Becker as Steely Dan took the stage July 24th for the first of two nights at Ravinia in Highland Park, IL. for their Rockabye Gollie Angel Tour. He was true to his word, as the evening was a glorious nostalgia fest perfectly staged in the idyllic park setting that is Ravinia.

Prior to Becker and Donald Fagen taking the stage, The Bobby Broom Organization gave the audience a little taste of why Broom is one of the world's top 20 jazz guitarists, warming them up for an evening of nothing but the music. Simple staging allowed fans to focus solely on the tunes they were there to hear, delighting fans young and old alike.

For nearly two hours, Steely Dan founders and front men Donald Fagen and Walter Becker together with their outstanding band (three backup vocalists, four horns, lead guitar, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards) treated fans to a nonstop parade of their trademark jazz and blues infused tunes including Josie, Peg, Bodhisatva, and My Old School, bringing the crowd to their feet time and again.

Becker, breaking from the music every once in a while to chat with the audience, took a minute to wax on about making music with his partner in crime Donald Fagen for nearly fifty years. It is easy to see why they're still doing it. Not only do they make it look effortless, but they're clearly having a blast and taking the fans along for the ride.

Fagen, though he may not be a charismatic front man, was confident in his command of the stage and the music, expertly leading the band through opening numbers Black Cow and Aja, from their first ever platinum selling album of the same name. Becker, too, got a turn at lead vocals on Daddy Don't Live in That New York City No More.

Hey 19, one of the many tunes that spotlighted the lush vocals and cool choreography of backup vocalists "The Danettes," provided the backdrop for Becker to chat up the audience and extol the virtues of the band, "I want to be buried with this band!" he joked, "Not anytime soon though!"

Lesser known tunes like Pearl of the Quarter were mixed in with perennial faves like Babylon Sisters, the fans singing, dancing and clapping along, filling Ravinia with their energy, enthusiasm and appreciation for the legendary band.

The Danettes took center stage on Dirty Work, longtime backup vocalist Carolyn Leonhart lending a sultry interpretation to the lyrics.

Becker, as always enjoying his role as lead conversationalist for the band, spent several minutes introducing each member of the uber-talented ensemble, joking "they look good, dress good, smell good...!"

Near the two hour mark, The Dan's performance of Reelin' in the Years brought the entire pavilion to their feet, exuberant fans dancing in the aisles and all over the lawn. The weather was perfect. The performance spot-on. Becker promised everyone a "bodaciously good time" when he took the stage. He is obviously not just a skilled, confident musician and entertainer–he's also a man of his word. 

 

 

 

 


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