Thursday, 24 April 2014

"The Dukes Of September – Live At Lincoln Centre" on BLU RAY – A Review by Mark Barry Of The 2012 Michael McDonald, Donald Fagen and Boz Scaggs In Concert Release

"…Hey Nineteen…" 
The Dukes Of September Live At Lincoln Centre on BLU RAY

Looking perhaps a bit more portly around the old midriff than one would like – our three ageing heroes take centre stage after the band has warmed up the crowd with a funky James Brown instrumental. And were off…

Filmed November 2012 in Hi Def and from multiple angles (UK released March 2014) – “The Dukes Of September” looks glorious - with the Lincoln Centre surely being one of the most beautiful venues in the world (and ideally sized too). You also begin to notice as the camera pans around the stunning band that the paint on the bass guitar is knackered, the sax is a bit rusted around the gills and the keyboards ‘White Lightning’ McDonald uses has been teleported from 1976 to 2012. In other words – these are real instruments played by real musicians - and it feels like your very own “Aja” band 'live' – a complaint I’ll gladly put up with any day of the week.

First up is a truly classy cover of The Isley Brothers “Who’s That Lady” with Boz Scaggs taking lead vocals and long-time Steely Dan guitarist Jon Herington putting in blistering axework. In fact he becomes one of the heroes of the night – playing all those Jay Graydon, Larry Carlton and Elliott Randall solos we’ve known and loved all these years – not just note for note – but with an added fluidity – like he in fact played them in the first place.

The first real clunker for me is an ill-advised cover of Sam and Dave’s “Sweet Soul Music” (more cod Blues Brothers than a tribute to a classic) and a slightly underwhelming “I Keep Forgettin” also follows. But things explode when Donald Fagen goes into the funky keyboard opening of “Kid Charlemange” from 1976’s “The Royal Scam” - and you can literally hear the entire audience thinking two words – STEELY DAN! The place erupts – because they’ve waited a lifetime to hear this – the real deal – live and in your living room.

It’s followed by a fabulous bluesy cover of “The Same Thing” - a Muddy Waters Chess nugget from 1964 written by the mighty Willie Dixon. It’s followed by another genius choice – Chuck Berry’s infectious “You Never Can Tell” with McDonald playing an Accordion out front to superb effect (uses it instead of a piano for the solo giving the song a slight Cajun feel).

But after crowd-pleasing versions of “What A Fool Believes”, “Hey Nineteen” and a suave take on Teddy Pendergrass’ “Love TKO” – they hit the audience with a lethal triple whammy that slays them in the aisles. We get “Peg” (Fagen on Vocals), “Lowdown” (Scaggs on Vocals) and “Takin’ It To The Streets” (McDonald On Vocals) in a row. To hear Michael McDonald harmonize with Donald Fagen on “Peg” as he did on the 1977 “Aja” original is magical – then Boz gets fabulous and funky with “Lowdown” (people up dancing at this stage) – then a Soulful keyboard solo before McDonald goes into that “Takin’ It To The Streets” opening - and I’m bawling my eyes out like a big girl’s blouse. And as if that isn’t bad enough – Jon Herington then launches into the blistering guitar of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ In The Years” – and resistance is quite literally futile.

There’s also a couple of tasty surprises thrown in: Fagen in the encore doing a fabulously slinky version of “Pretzel Logic” with Boz Scaggs taking the second verse - while midway through the set Scaggs does his own “Miss Sun” – a gorgeous yet forgotten gem from 1980. Boz cleverly duets the lovely melody with Monet Owens (one of the sassy backing vocalists) – she scatting vocals off his guitar licks towards the end. It’s brilliant and more than a pleasant addition. And the band are just brilliant – all of them.

I’m 56 this year and would have given a small gonad to have seen and felt this dream band for real. The music still feels fresh to me – like it was yesterday. But in lieu - this fab BLU RAY will have to do.

And as the camera pans across the senior citizen crowd – like me - you can see that its way past their bedtime. But man – what dreams to savour…

“I have never met Napoleon…but I plan to find the time…yes I do…”

I know what you mean mate.

Set List:
1.         People Get Up And Dance Your Funky Stuff – James Brown cover
2.         Who’s That Lady – Isley Brothers cover
3.         Sweet Soul Music – Sam And Dave cover
4.         I Keep Forgettin’ – Michael McDonald song
5.         Kid Charlemagne – Steely Dan song
6.         The Same Thing – Muddy Waters cover (Willie Dixon song)
7.         Miss Sun – Boz Scaggs song (sings duet with Monet Owens)
8.         You Never Can Tell – Chuck Berry cover
9.         What A Fool Believes – Doobie Brothers song
10.       Hey Nineteen – Steely Dan song
11.       Love TKO – Teddy Pendergrass cover
12.       Peg – Steely Dan song
13.       Lowdown – Boz Scaggs song
14.       Takin’ It To The Streets – Doobie Brothers song
15.       Reelin’ In The Years – Steely Dan song
16.       Lido Shuffle – Boz Scaggs song
17.       Pretzel Logic – Steely Dan song
18.       Them Changes – Buddy Miles cover
19.       People Get Up And Dance Your Funky Stuff/Credits – The Band

Michael McDonald – Electric Keyboards, Accordion and Vocals
Donald Fagen – Steinway Piano, Vocals
Boz Scaggs – Guitar and Vocals
Jon Herington – Lead Guitar
Michael Leonheart – Trumpet
Walt Weiskopt – Tenor Sax and Flute
Jay Collins – Baritone Sax and Flute
Freddie Washington – Bass
Shannon Forest – Drums
Carolyn Leonheart and Monet Lewis – Backing Vocals

Dolby Digital Stereo
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

Dolby DTS Master Audio

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