It’s becoming an annual ritual, no less sweeter through familiarity. The clocks go forward, it gets a little lighter at nights and Nearly Dan return to play The Voodoo Rooms on a Friday evening; once again we can marvel, watching and listening to mortals recreate and re-enliven the works of the immortals Becker, Fagen and Katz. The faint and probably spurious optimism engendered by the arrival of spring is bolstered by the visit of the Stoke wizards.
I usually manage to persuade at least one new person to go – this year’s inductee was blown away although surprised when told at the interval that the band weren’t quite reaching the heights which we had seen before. Still, the interval fight in the dressing room to which front man Steve Hays always alludes must have been a particularly good one, because the second set was dynamite.
Next year they are talking about two nights at The Voodoo Rooms with two separate sets. I’ll be there twice, if God’s willing.
I enjoyed Donald Fagen’s Elegant Hipsters, which was happily as witty and mordant as you would expect from the man. A slim volume (or no volume at all the way I read it, on my second broken Kindle,) the majority of it documents a US tour with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs and the incongruity of these frankly older men out doing a “rock” tour. As Irv Azoff, Fagen’s manager, likes to remind him at every less opulent hotel or every bus journey between “selective appeal” venues, “This ain’t Steely Dan…”
The rest of the book uses essays Fagen had already written for music and film publications and like a lot of the books I read now, will end up costing me money buying music I’d not heard before; the first essay is about The Boswell Sisters and Fagen’s enthusiasm is so big and clearly expressed, I need to investigate soonest. Who knew.
Something else that “ain’t Steely Dan,” but might be more fun, is the wonderful Nearly Dan, who are about to tour again in April, coming to Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms on the 25th and Oran Mor in Glasgow the night after.
This will be my third show and it’s always been a great night out before…LA and NY’s finest jazz rock played with perfection and grace, or, as Nearly Dan have it, “less tribute, more homage…”
Here’s Nearly Dan at The Voodoo Rooms on 12 April.
I saw them for the first time on the corresponding Friday last year and was blown away. Thinking that it may have been a fluke, I had to go again and this time they were even better.
It’s a great night out, seeing and hearing the smartest music of America’s finest session musicians reinterpreted by the cast of Corrie from the eighties. Which is said with the greatest love and respect, because I love Steely Dan and I used to quite like Corrie.
Best of all, Nearly Dan clearly have a ball playing this music (and who wouldn’t?) Steve Hayes on vocals and guitar mooted the idea of coming back to Edinburgh next year and playing two nights, with two different sets; they could definitely do this, given how different this year’s set was from last year’s.
I’ll be there. Nearly Dan do Walter and Donald’s music a great service and get a largely appreciative, responsive audience, although there were some truly frightening examples of dad-dancing and drunk-auntie-at-the-wedding-when-“Brown Sugar”-comes-on-dancing happening…
But the music’s great; accurate without being slavish and played with love.
A word of praise for The Voodoo Rooms as well, which is turning into a great venue. The bar can get a bit crowded, but just when you think you’re in for a long wait, another couple of bar staff tend to appear from the back; which is how it’s supposed to happen, really.
Nearly Dan’s rather fine website can be found here.
I’m looking forward to seeing this mob on Friday at Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms – I saw them a year ago to the day. It was a great night out and I suspect probably more fun and less schlepp than going to see Steely Dan these days.