Steely Dan was in Detroit as part of their Shuffle Diplomacy Tour, presenting themselves as the Jazz-Rock Ambassadors to the Galaxy. They chose to perform at The Fox, a gem of a structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The opulence of the theatre offers a stark contrast to the homeless people sleeping on the street as you enter downtown. Talk about 'Show Biz Kids'- which, incidentally, did make it onto the setlist that night.
A suited-up doorman, sporting a tophat and tails, greeted patrons as they arrived at the Steely Dan show. He valiantly opened the heavy golden doors, flanked by gryphons, which led to the visual wonderland that is the Fox.
The band which accompanied The Dan on this tour was the Miles High Big Band, featuring The Embassy Brats as back-up singers. To create denouement, the band set the mood for the impending Steely Dan performance by opening with 'Dizzy's Bidness,' which seemed to last forever but did build anticipation.
Finally the duo themselves entered. Donald Fagen sat down at his keyboard, while Walter Becker stood steadfast with his bass guitar. They drew the audience in with 'Aja,' followed by 'Black Friday'- all standard fare for a Steely Dan show these days. When the notes fell for 'Hey Nineteen,' the crowd seemed delighted, and sang along enthusiastically, albeit off-key.
Any major dude will tell you that there were no surprises as far as the setlist was concerned. To remedy that situation there are the select 'Special Setlist' shows peppered throughout the tour which include both Rarities! and Request Night!
Surprisingly, the voices of Becker and Fagen were in league with the studio sessions. With Fagan behind the obsidian shades and a hefty keyboard, there wasn't much hyping the crowd, but the Steely Dan audience does not expect Jumpin' Jack Flash. The music is entertaining enough.
Please note> Photographs from concert published elsewhere.