Steely Dan and Steve Winwood – Concert review by Michael Martinez
Performance: Bethel Woods Center for the Arts July 9, 2016
Photo by Michael Bloom courtesy of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
Going to a gig at Bethel Woods Center For The Arts has become a highlight of the summer concert season. The Pavillion main stage has great sound, sightlines and the lawn seating has two large screens where the audience can view the performance. The Center is also built on the original site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival and offers music lovers beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. There is a vibe and beauty to the venue that is unique and makes Bethel one of the better “Sheds” in New York State. Steely Dan brought their The Dan Who Knew Too Much Tour to Bethel on July 9, 2016 along with opener Steve Winwood for a night of musical bliss.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Steve Winwood opened his set with The Spencer Davis Group classic “I’m A Man.” It was apparent from the first song that the iconic master of blue-eyed soul was in fine form. Winwood and his excellent touring band played classic after classic including Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home”, Traffic’s ” The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” and “Dear Mr. Fantasy”. Winwood also played the hit single “Higher Love”, from his fourth solo album Back In The High Life. At the end of the set, the audience was begging for more and it was great to see Winwood basking in the love from the Bethel crowd.
Walter Becker and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan hit the stage opening with “November Afternoon” then dazzled the audience with a soulful rendition of one of my favorite Dan songs “Black Cow”. This track holds a special place in my heart for its reference to Rudy’s, a famous dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen. Steely Dan followed with a beautiful “Aja” that offered the band the chance to add some color and space to the arrangement of the title song from their massive breakthrough album. Other highlights of their set included “Hey Nineteen” and the fast paced rocker “Bodhisattva”. The concert was filled with more of the groups hits, songs that burst out of AM and FM radio in the 1970’s, and have remained a part of classic rock radio for decades.
Steely Dan created a popular sound that served up a delicious radio friendly tracks. Underneath the studio mastery of Becker and Fagen are intellegnt lyrics that reveal a darker side. Renowned for their jazz rock fusion, Steely Dan songs transcend the genre into something altogether more pop-oriented, subversive and cool. It was a great experience to see Steely Dan perform at Bethel Woods and I highly recommend venturing to this great venue in upstate New York.
Bethel Woods info: www.bethelwoodscenter.org
Steely Dan Tour info: www.steelydan.com