By Chris M. Junior
On the history page of its Web site, the Beacon Theatre includes a short paragraph about The Allman Brothers Band’s annual residency at the classy, three-tiered venue.
The Beacon should also include a mention that it’s becoming the intimate room of choice in New York City for other legendary rock acts to stage extended concert runs.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers played five deep-cuts-heavy gigs there in the spring. The latest Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act to set up camp at the Beacon is Steely Dan: seven shows, each one focusing on a specific album or theme.
On Oct. 4, Steely Dan performed “Gaucho” from start to finish. Of the seven albums from the group’s initial 1972-1980 run, “Gaucho” is arguably the most underrated, but this enthusiastic Beacon crowd was not underwhelmed by Steely Dan’s start-to-finish presentation.
With their backing musicians already in place doing their thing, Steely Dan singer/keyboardist Donald Fagen and guitarist/singer Walter Becker strolled onstage to claim their spots. And with their arrival, the night of “Gaucho” was officially off and running, and by sheer coincidence, a lyric in the slinky album opener “Babylon Sisters” summed up Steely Dan’s Beacon run: “This is no one night stand/It’s a real occasion.”
Aside from an extended crowd-acknowledging/show-context-setting monologue by Becker toward the end of “Hey Nineteen,” Steely Dan let the music do the talking, swiftly moving through “Gaucho” with precision sans any between-song commentary. Fagen and Becker have always surrounded themselves with top-notch talent in the studio and onstage, and this touring unit is no exception. The brightest of the bunch were guitarist Jon Herrington and drummer Keith Carlock, and they were both given a chance to shine during the final “Gaucho” track, “Third World Man.”
“That’s ‘Gaucho’ complete, more or less,” Fagen said with a slight smile, before deadpanning that the band would fill out the evening with “a bunch of other crap.”
Actually, “cream of the crop” would have been a more apt description: three songs from “Aja” (including the title track, with Carlock adding extra fire to the song’s crucial drum fills), plus a more groove-oriented version of “Show Biz Kids,” a faithful take on “My Old School” and the guitar-solo extravaganza “Reelin’ in the Years,” among others.
Steely Dan’s remaining Beacon Theatre shows — which also wrap up the band’s oddly named Mood Swings: 8 Miles to Pancake Day tour — are Oct. 5 (Request Night), Oct. 7 (“Aja” plus select hits) and Oct. 8 (Greatest Hits Night).