Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Donald Fagen, Boz Skaggs, Michael McDonald MN State Fair Concert Review

Billed as The Dukes of September Rhythm Review, a band featuring Michael McDonald, Boz Skaggs, Donald Fagen, and a majority of the band from the 2009 Steely Dan tour held court on the final day of the Minnesota State Fair. The weather was miserable, with times of heavy rain and strong wind, and judging by some of the missing seats, kept some folks either at home or sheltered in the grandstand. Regardless of the weather, the show was quite good.

Here's a set list to the best of my recollection:

Everybody's Gone - Think I may have the title wrong on this one. All three shared a chorus to start things off.
Don't Mess Up a Good Thing - Michael McDonald soared his blue-eyed soul to take this old Fontella Bass and Bobby McClure song to an awesome place. Outstanding.
Shakedown Street - Fagen gave a pretty honest treatment to perhaps the worst Grateful Dead song ever. Not sure why it was selected. Yuck.
You Never Can Tell - Boz did a traditional run at this Chuck Berry classic, but chose not to go after the high last line of the chorus. It sounded funny that way (although the background singers hit it for him), and could have been better.
I Got News for You - Michael McDonald absolutely tore the place down with this song. Somewhere, Ray Charles was smiling broadly.
Green Flower Street - Great treatment by Fagen. Very true to the original, save for a great piano solo lead-in.
Miss Sun - This is my favorite Boz song, and hands down the best part is the sexy female backup singer improvisation at the end. I was wondering how that part of the song was going to be handled, and sure enough one of the female backups came down to take on an interplay with Boz. Unfortunately, their mic levels were not at all aligned, and instead of a breathy, sexy back and forth, she dominated the conversation. Too bad.
I Keep Forgettin' - A solid performance by Michael.
Rock Steady - One of the background singers took on this Aretha song, and did pretty damn good with it. I know I wouldn't want to cover the Queen of Soul, but she really held her own. I was impressed.
King Harvest - Fagen started out a trio of covers by The Band, and all three were really lacking. Given their backgrounds, band, and personal catalogs, covering The Band made zero sense to me.
Rag, Momma, Rag - The second miss, this time with Boz at lead vocals.
You Don't Know the Shape I'm In - McDonald's stellar vocals made this passable.
I Live the Life I Love - Another backup singer handled lead vocals on this old Muddy Waters tune.
Cadillac Walk - Boz's voice hits stride with this Mink Deville classic.
What a Fool Believes - While the song sounded dated, it did get some folks to their feet to build to the finale.
I.G.Y - For some reason I did not expect Fagen to play this. Not sure why, but it surprised me. He totally knocked it out of the park, and more people got on their feet.
Lowdown - Boz's biggest hit had even more people dancing.
Takin' It to the Street - This Doobies' classic my McDonald had literally everybody up.
Reelin' In the Years - Given the band make up, they've been playing this for over a year now, and they crushed it.

Additional random notes:
  • Fagen was way more lucid than he was last November. He knew his lyrics (save for one small error on I.G.Y), and cracked himself up on the lead lyric of Reelin' while fighting through the wind and rain - your everlasting summer you can see it fading fast.
  • All the guys looked really good. They looked their age, yeah, but they still looked good.
  • I was really awed by the greatness of Michael McDonald's singing. Why he didn't have a significantly bigger career is beyond me. He's kind of like the US's version of Great Britain's Paul Carrack
Despite the lousy weather, it really was fun. I recommend the show.

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