- 29 Oct 17
Last man standing Donald Fagen brings the 'Dan to Dublin. Pat Carty reports.
Due to a “production meeting” which overran (in The Flowing Tide), Hot Press missed a good half of the Doobie Brothers performance, but what we did catch, including ‘Listen To The Music’, sounded great, the singing and playing exemplary. It sounded great, that is, when you could actually hear it. The audio completely dropped out in the middle of their huge hit, and, according to the fella beside me, this was the third or fourth time it had happened. A testament to the Doobie’s professionalism then, that they didn’t let this misfortune affect their performance. If anything, it endeared them to the crowd even more.
The hipsters of today are quite rightly scorned and mocked – go home, shave, and put on a pair of big boy pants. The original hipsters were a different thing altogether. In his 1977 book Jazz: A History, Frank Tirro saw the hipster as “always ten steps ahead of the game”, “he is looking for something that transcends all this bullshit and finds it in jazz”. Donald Fagen has always seemed to personify this attitude, opening tonight’s show with ‘Fan It, Janet’, a song found on trumpeter Maynard Ferguson’s 1958 album, A Message From Newport. Hip enough for ya? He follows it with the first of two numbers from his 1982 solo album, The Nightfly. ‘Green Flower Street’ could be a testing of the waters, checking to see who really is in on things. ‘Black Cow’ welcomes the rest of us to the party, Fagen getting busy on the Fender Rhodes behind his ever present dark glasses. The four piece horn section also get to stretch out, as do the three backing singers – their gloriously half-arsed dancing only speaks of their serious intent, they’ve come to sing, not flounce about. ‘Hey Nineteen’ gets a roar of recognition from the crowd, prompting Fagen to comment “you know this one?” Is he sneering? Have our hip levels been found wanting? No matter, everyone is happy to reminisce about real or imagined nights past and passed with Cuervo Gold and fine Colombian.
‘New Frontier’, the second song from The Nightfly, lifts the keyboard line from Stevie Wonder’s ‘Happy Birthday’, indeed there are times when Fagen, sat at the keyboard, head swaying behind the shades, lost in the music, starts to somewhat physically resemble the Motown genius. ‘Aja’ was always going to be a highlight – the shoot out between saxophonist Walt Weiskopf and drummer Keith Carlock leaves every musician in the room questioning their self-worth. Fagen assists on the melodica, but it’s akin to helping out the Royal Philharmonic by adding a bit of kazoo.