White River Amphitheatre: 2006July 28, 2006
Michael McDonald and Steely Dan
Danfest following at Suedave's
This has taken me all day to write inbetween sorta weaving around the house and for that matter, experiencing a little vertigo right here on my chair... or am i under my chair?
And speaking of taking a long time: Why has it taken me 40 years to wonder what Tom Jones REALLY means when he sings, "I'll soon be kissing your sweet little pussycat lips?" I mean, is he saying what I think he's saying?
Apropos of nothing, that's the kind of stuff that I'm thinking this morning as a half-pint of Cuervo Gold (oh THANK YOU Sue) courses through my veins. I DO LOVE ME SOME TEQUILA. I was much more wrecked after this show than I've ever been at any other show, but I had only had one beer all day. There was a whole 'nother reason for that which I'll tell ya later.
If you want to see good photos, you'll have to find them elsewhere, sadly. My camera is strictly from hunger, and my pix are all low-resolution from shitsville. Sorry about that. The best ones I have are of the pre-Danfest at Suedave's and the gathering in the beer garden before the show, so those are the ones I've posted here. I didn't edit them, so there are dupes. So it goes.
(Note to self: any picture taken over your head will look like it was taken over your head. Avoid this.)
As to the show...
I love Michael McDonald. I was one of the happiest people in the Dandom fandom when I heard he'd be touring on the bill with them. But I'd never seen him live, and the television I've seen with him does not convey his brilliant natural gift. His voice is like a holy being in and of itself. He opens his mouth and sings, but clearly, he doesn't possess the voice; it possesses him.
But he really needs to lay off the burritos, if you take my meaning, if only so he'll be healthy enough to stick around and fulfill the destiny of his entire career, including the voice as it evolves with age.
Still, I cannot and will not complain. He was eargasmic.
The show was well-timed and the intermission was short. I was delighted that I didn't have to wait very long after MM to see the SD Orchestra take the stage. I'm not going to publish a setlist because I didn't take any notes. I do believe it was essentially the same as it's been all along. You can read said setlists in Hoops' Dandom Digest, or online at his guestbook, The Steely Dan Fan's Bluebook.
And here's what Hoops gleaned from his conversation with Suedave from the car after the show, although I was there at the moment and don't think Sue was really capable of accuracy (if you catch my drift, ya know) (Just kidding, Sue!) (kinda --3d):
White River Set List
These are the songs... perhaps one or two out of order
Turtle Talk (Just the band, no W + D)
(Walter & Donald join the band)
Time Out Of Mind
I Got The News
Dirty Work vocals by girls + JEFF YOUNG (added by 3d)
Show Biz Kids (including WB introducing the band/enter Michael McDonald)(i don't think MM came in at this point, though I can't remember where he did come in... He was introduced individually by Donald later, am I right? --3d) (probably not --3d)
Do It Again
Don't Take Me Alive
My Old School (no FM)
Last Tango in Paris, although dianeDianeDIANE swears it was Chinatown (NOTE:I have subsequently conceded this point, although I have never seen this movie. I have heard this song, but didn't know its name. To me it sounds similar to the theme from "Chinatown," which sounds similar to the theme from "Body Heat," which sounds similar to every theme from every movie in the film noir genre of the 1940s --3d)
When Don and Walt hit the stage, pandemonium broke out. The venue, which had had hundreds of empty seats all around me for MM, was suddenly full of rabid Danfans. Our appreciation knew no bounds.
They hit their stride and never let up for the next... what, 45 minutes? One hour? I had no watch and I didn't want one. Every single song was PERFECTLY delivered--the absolute best performance technically I've ever seen. Donald's voice, especially, has taken on a new life. As good as he's always been, he has actually attained a new level of brilliance. He was hitting the high notes like a castrato.
Occasionally he'd bend himself backward to hit a high note--you've all seen him do that--and when he did, it sort of accentuated his outfit, a huge long black leather jacket, way too big for him and buttoned up to his chin, and some kind of pegged black pants above his ubiquitous white running shoes. It reminded me of something, but I couldn't think what until this morning.
You'd have to have seen the movie, "The Day the Earth Stood Still," starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal (coincidentally, released the year I was born! Cool.). Go to IMDB for the plot, or better, Wikipedia where there are pictures. Rennie plays an alien being who comes to earth to warn its citizens that destruction is their destiny if they don't curb their violent ways.
He is accompanied by a gigantic robot named Gort--actually, the galactic version of a cop--and this is one scary being. That's who Donald reminded me of as he arched backward. I half-expected Walter to approach Donald at any second to chant, "Klaatu... barada... nikto... " and for Donald's shades to slide open and a laser beam to sear out, probing the first five rows for primitive minds.
Walter, on the other hand, desperately needs the queer eye. I believe he was wearing the exact same clothes he had on last time I saw him. It's time for a change, Mr. Becker.
Most people know about my deep and abiding love for Walter, so I really don't care. It just struck me that he either wears the same clothes all the time or he has a closet full of the same shirts and the same baggy jeans.
He seemed to lack his usual energy during the show. As other fans have pointed out, he mostly sat on a stool next to the drums. Usually he's closer to Donald, and they occasionally meet up on stage for a duel or just to say hi... and he introduced himself quickly and quietly.
The other thing he usually does is, when he solos, he does this rhythmic thing with his head, moving it from side to side with the rhythm of his fingers. I didn't see him do this once. I barely saw him at all. And it was almost impossible to get a photo of him.
Part of the reason for this was the two music stands they always place in the center apron of the stage. You can't see Carlock, either. And if you're off to the sides, your view of Walter or Donald must be obstructed.
I didn't see Donald refer to the paper on the music stands once all night, so I cannot determine the importance of said stands. I wish they'd move them. Somebody slip one of the roadies a fin or a joint or something... ask him to make it go away.
Enough about that. Walter played his guitars fantastically all night, and when it was time for "Josie," he did this thing where he was up on the fret closest to the body and he just did this fast glissando down the neck to the bottom, then immediately launched into those familiar licks. I'd never heard him do this before. It was stunning.
Occasionally Jon Herington and Walter were doing short pieces--trading fours--and the spotlight seemed not to be able to tell who was playing what. I couldn't tell, either. Maybe they're rubbing off on each other.
Jon Herington is warming up. He's still technically excellent, but now it seems like his Rolex is not the first thing you notice when he starts fingering the the frets. I've had a lot of trouble with his "coldness" since he joined up, but I was right on board with everything he did last night.
The "argument" between trombonist Jim Pugh and trumpeter Michael Leonhart (really trading fours) ... what a bit of shtick, and fun-NEEEEE! I don't know how Donald is coming off in the other shows, but he's so relaxed these days, I sort of thought he might come down from the stage and give someone a noogie.
As the horn players began, Donald had a running commentary about what each of them "said." Michael spoke first, and Donald was nodding along. Then when Jim Pugh spoke his first point, Donald said, "Huh, I didn't KNOW that... " and then when they really got into it, he said, "Oh DEAR..." like an old grandmother. Finally he said, "All right, that's ENOUGH... go to your risers!" (I think--the crowd was laughing and applauding so hard, I couldn't hear) and pointed the way for them to go, all sheepish like two bad kids. Priceless.
Donald was also much more physical, prowling around the stage like he owned it--and he did. Sitting at his Fender Rhodes, he did this wavy-hand thing that made it look like he was triple-jointed. I adopted it for my "cool dance move..." a little later.
He played that little thing... can't remember the name of it right now... OH YEAH, the Melodica! But he did not play his Lync LN4 MIDI sequencer, which is essential for his bits on Cousin Dupree. I don't think they did Cuz... I don't remember it. Did they? God, it's a bitch getting old... Hey, 19? Don't YOU remember?
Jeff Young sang the bottom part on Dirty Work while the babechoir sang over that... it was really quite extraordinary, the blend. But I wish the girls would get some new moves. This "wipe on/wipe off" shit is getting really old, and really, they appear unapproachable, aloof, cold, while they do it. I'd like to see them getting funky. Fewer hand gestures, more hip hips and big legs.
Keith Carlock may be the greatest drummer who ever drew breath. He was born for the instrument. He has reinvented drumming. Walter introduced him and said, "Rhythm has been around since we first emerged from the primordial ooze, which was 300 million years ago .... but there haven't been any really good drummers until lately... ladies and gentlemen KEITH CARLOCK!" Multiple rhythmgasms. I could see every move his sticks made, but I could not believe a human being could move that fast, syncopate that well, keep up that deep beat forever.
I am even more impressed now than I was the first time I saw him. Steely Dan is lucky to have him. He's the first drummer who has managed to silence the "Why don't they use Steve Gadd again?" argument.
The crowd was exceptionally polite and there was much seat-grooving. The venue was amazing... much better than I expected. The sound was unparalleled. There was a ton of legroom and the seats were comfortable with armrests, hooked together so no one could push over into your space in order to get a better view, perhaps. It was clean, plenty of vendors, and a short walk from the gate compared with the Gorge.
So, politely, no one was dancing, rendering moot the dance/don't dance argument. I've always been on the "don't dance in front of people and block their view" side. But Donald, after about 20 minutes of rocking out, said, "Do people dance in Seattle?" and that brought 90 percent of the crowd to its feet--including me.
We danced nonstop for the next 30 minutes, I'm guessing. That's when I incorporated Donald's cool hand gesture into my dance routine (heh heh heh). The dancing was absolutely okay with everyone and it was appropriate and fun. No one had a problem with it. And that's how it SHOULD be in a situation like this--majority rule and plenty of fun.
And that is why I could barely drag myself out of bed this morning after 3.5 hours of sleep. I worked every muscle in my body like some kind of a dervish. I'm paying for it, but I don't care. I had the time of my life.
They did one encore and they didn't do "FM." It was enough, though, since they seemed to play so much and so long and so well. It was totally satisfying.
I'm abbreviating here because a) I'm bone-weary and b) I need to get up and move around, but maybe I'll tell more later about the people we were with and the Danfest. I will say that there was a couple--Matt and Sophie--who came from Paris, France, to attend this show. Sue(dave) had met him when she was in Europe a coupla weeks ago.
And the Usual Suspects from the Gorge 2000 Technicolor Motorhome blast reappeared--Mike, Butchie--and it was good to see them. St. Al was also there and he's never looked happier or better. I have to mention that because he was absolutely glowing; it was no small thing.
Sue, of course, and her husband, David, did what they do every time: put on an incredible party to share with everyone. They are surely two of the most generous people on earth. Their house is fabulous--a lovingly restored Craftsman bungalow, their kitchen is like the benevolent center of the universe, their food is fantastic and the booze flows like the Columbia River but never reaches the ocean. I love ya, Sue and David.
Oh, the little construction at the bottom of this page surrounds a punchbowl full of Margaritas--personifying the "pool of Margaritas" from EMG, the title track. Barbie and Ken had a little face time in the service elevator later, and Dave, of course, brought the Handicam. At one point, I knocked Ken--or he jumped in--into the pool while refilling my glass. No problem. I just held him over the glass and wrang the tequila out of his Docker shorts.
And now for the obligatory sexual innuendo: On the way out a big sign over the gates read THANKS FOR COMING, but I corrected it, explaining that I was just breathing hard
And the unrelated transcendent moment for me was standing outside with young Matt (not Matt from France), who rode down with us, when I saw a bird emerge from the crevices of the shed and start to fly over. It was an owl, who apparently lives in the cracks between the corrugated aluminum. The owl has no particular significance to me, but it just reminded me that, even though we weren't at the Gorge, we were still in some spiritual country (The fact that it's down the road from an Indian casino notwithstanding). I wonder if he liked the music and was enjoying a short fly-by during intermission to catch a mouse or pick up a beer.
The photos are only sparsely captioned. I'll take care of that tomorrow--or not.
love and kisses, as always
p.s.: I forgot to mention: Sue developed the concept for the pool of margaritas and commissioned me to create the pool deck. Give me a piece of cardboard and some paint and look out...