Another night at the Q-Bus in Leiden, although I admit to the fact not having been that often in 2014. When I read about the Steely Dan tribute, I was fairly certain of a few things.
1. A lot of people would show up.
2. This was going to be good.
3. There wouldn't be any youth in the room.
The room was nearly packed. From a radio traffic announcer to a professor of Dutch literature, this band attracted a large audience. Hardly anyone under 40 and yes, it was very, very good. People who are just average players, will never try to recreate Steely Dan. The music is simply to complex. Just a few seconds into the first song, I think it was 'Big black cow' the three background singers kicked in and I knew: this is going to be so alright. And it was.
I have seen Steely Dan live once, in Ahoy, Rotterdam. Late 90s or early 00s, I can't remember. Probably following the 'Two against nature' cd. The jazzy music did not hold in the giant surroundings. Not that it wasn't good, but it never came alive. And here is where my fourth assumption came true. Steely Dan makes music for clubs and the Q-Bus qualified for 100%. The sound was again very good from the start. All instruments could be heard so clear, the mix so right and the singing could be followed by the word and all without even getting close to the sound limit.
In 1980 I remember listening to the radio for the first airing of 'Gaucho'. WTF? 'Babylon sisters' was a song I didn't have much patience for. This has changed with time, culminating in this jazzy show yesterday evening in the Q-Bus. The slightly more poppy songs, infused with rock solos of the band's first years are still favourites of mine. The more jazzy part of their career till 1980 have joined the fold on my part. 'Aja' is as dear to me now as 'Can't buy a thrill'. The songs are just so good and well composed and arranged. Every little piece of this musical puzzle fits in all the right places.
What the Ahoy show, in my faint recollection, totally belied is how bluesy, soulful and danceable the music of Steely Dan is. It is all in there and it is just impossible to stand still. All very subdued and totally cool of course, but the music of Steely Dan is not music to sit down to. My body was swaying to the music the whole way. This is the final victory of its music. No matter how complex it is, there is this pop element left and the swing. It took me some years, but it no longer eludes me.
Let's face it. Bands like these are the future, just like the Concertgebouw Orkest is for classical music. Who else will play the music for when we're older and for all that come behind us? Bands like Gaucho. A great evening it was.