Best Concert at a Large Venue

Steely Dan, Ford Ampitheatre, Aug. 10

Donald Fagen, Walter Becker and their ace ensemble concentrated solely on material from the classic ’70s albums, setting aside all solo material and, especially, anything from Steely Dan’s disappointing post-2000 output. The result was a “greatest hits” set of the highest order, with the band locking in and Fagen’s stage presence far more relaxed and animated than on recent tours. Guitarist John Herrington referenced but didn’t ape the many fine guitar solos in songs like “Kid Charlemagne,” “My Old School” and others. Also outstanding was tenor/alto saxophonist Walt Weiskopf, who blew several uncompromisingly jazzy improvs. In the open-air setting, the band — two guitars, two keyboards, bass, drums, a four-man horn section and two female background vocalists — was exquisitely mixed. The weather cooperated: It was hot, certainly, but a pleasant breeze made the Ford tolerable, even — dare we say it — comfortable. Steely Dan played a bevy of hits (“Deacon Blues,” “Do It Again,” “Peg,” “FM,” Hey Nineteen”), but also unveiled a few surprises, most notably a stunning “Don’t Take Me Alive.”


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