Steely Dan & The Doobie Brothers: Living Dangerously At Toyota Music Factory!! – Irving, TX 5/25/18

THE DOOBIE BROTHERS and STEELY DAN made their Dallas stop on the 2018 tour on Friday night May 25. They call it the Summer of Living Dangerously Tour, and that could have so many different meanings given the age of these cool cats, and the oppressive heat that they are sure to endure with so many outdoor engagements. This night however would prove to be about as perfect weather as one could wish for! They could just as easily have donned this the ‘Summer of Hot MILFs Tour’ given all the ‘talented’ older females that put on their summer best and came out to enjoy the amazing live music from a generation passed.  

For me, this would be the perfect kick off to an amazing Memorial Day weekend. My friend and his 19 year old college student son would join me for the concert at Toyota Music Factory in Irving. The fairly new venue with a lawn section would be the young lad’s first concert, ever! Naturally the first order of business was to buy the kid his first concert t-shirt. From the very reasonably priced selection available, he chose one that featured both bands, and the image on the front of a bi plane with the tour slogan, as well as a the full and very lengthy list of dates they are playing on the back…we all collectively gasped at the size of this list!  

THE DOOBIES kicked the evening off promptly at 7:30, with what seemed to be a lesser known and mildly received song “Natural Thing”. They were probably holding out on some of their better known material to be sure that all concertgoers were in attendance, given the early start on a holiday weekend that usually leaves the city in gridlock. This was not the case at this show however, as the venue was full promptly at the start, all the way to the back of the lawn. After about 20-30 minutes of unfamiliar material we would question the song choices, although the band sounded amazing with their signature harmonies and dazzling musicianship. They were eight songs in and the only smash hit they had played was “Jesus is Just Alright”.

The original singer Tom Johnston has been back in the band since 1987. The lead vocal was turned over to one of the guitarists to sing the Michael McDonald era (1975-82) song “Takin’ it to the Streets.” This woke the crowd up to a rallying cheer as it seemed that all of the women stood at up at once to dance. Finally the band was in high gear, spinning out all of their well known hits including “Black Water”, and “Long Train Runnin”, until they finally played “China Grove”, which damn near blew the lid off the pavilion.

By this time I had taken my actual seat for a closer look. I took notice of the fact that the majority of the band has adapted to some of the new technology available to musicians to make life so much easier…mainly, wireless guitar devices, and in ear monitoring systems. The opening act returned to the stage to answer the crowd’s demand for an encore! And that two-song set included “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me)”, and “Listen to the Music”.

Donald Fagen and STEELY DAN kicked off their set with the Maynard Ferguson cover “Fan It, Janet”. Wasting no time and getting right to the good stuff, the onslaught of memorable hits was incredible. “Bodhisattva” would be second, followed by “Hey Nineteen”, then “Black Friday”, and then freakin’ “Aja”!

Much of the lawn stayed on their feet for the duration of the show, and  the sound system in the venue was amazing, and at a perfectly comfortable volume level. There was an odd and lingering odor in the lawn area as soon as STEELY DAN took the stage, and for the duration of the entire set. Oddly this wasn’t the case during THE DOOBIE BROTHERS set. Perhaps he only comes out after dark. And hides in the “weeds”…

The energy in the place was electric, as the amazing sounds from some of the greatest musicians you can still see live were playing their souls out on saxophone, trombone, trumpet and more….solo after solo. Donald frequently rose from his usual position behind the keys, to solo on the blow horn, aka melodica. The trio of female backup singers laid the foundation of amazing harmonies. After 17 jaw dropping performances, they ended with “Josie”, and “My Old School”. The band was called back for an encore, which they obliged with “Reelin’ in the Years” Such an amazing performance of an historic collection of hits!



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