Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers Bring Back Classics at Xcel


Friday night at the Xcel I had the chance to see a couple classic bands with Steely Dan. When asked by friends, not the first time in my life, who the heck The Doobie Brothers are, I chuckled and said they’re missing out. The Doobie Brothers particularly was a band I remember being my first cassette from my parents. A band that I had no idea about and was shown by chance it would seem but is a staple in my favorite artists along others such as Mellencamp and Little River Band. Steely Dan and The Doobie Brothers brought in loyal fans from all over the state as I overheard conversations all around from those who’d made drives in from all over the state. I would say they all came and left having their expectations met and then some. 

At floor level I made my way into position near the sound board where I’d be covering the show. Energetic and already dancing fans were near and vocal immediately, and we were at least 5 minutes from the band walking out. Once they did though the stage was alive and had I not known better I could have closed my eyes and been 8 years old again listing to that same tape deck copy of China Grove. I do have to note one amusing thing, something which only now crossed my mind, a Ron Swanson doppleganger plays for The Doobie Brother. If you don’t know the show, do a quick google search of Ron Swanson then compare him to Tom Johnson and you’d think they were brothers.

Onto the important things though. For the younger folks presently reading and unaware of who The Doobie Brothers are or their music. They’re a southern power rock band with 4+ guitarists and some of the most notable opening riffs. Songs like China Grove, Listen to the Music, Taking it to the Streets, and others. One of my fears for this opener going in like so many of my long time favorites was, would they hold up to the passing of time or the studio to live performance change?. Damn right they did. I spent the last half of their set in the entry of the Xcel but listened the entire time. While others took smoke breaks or hit the bathroom and beer stands I sat and enjoyed reliving child hood moments while they continued playing. For an opener, it couldn’t have gone better.

Steely Dan, a phantom for myself in the music world and a band I only know by word of mouth and some friends who’ve been fans for years. That is until I saw this show, and realized I have known Steely Dan for years. My oh my what a mistake. Steely Dan fans, I sincerely apologize. Hits like Reelin In the years, Do It Again, and Hey Nineteen were all songs I can’t even begin to think of how many times I have heard whether in movies, shows, or radio. These songs are staples but almost by their own success have made me forget who they were recorded by somehow by blending into my memory with “oldies”. For all the surprises in my show experiences this year I think this one made me feel the most ridiculous. I DO know Steely Dan, and my confusion on how Doobie Brothers was just the opener unfounded. I love The Doobie Brothers but I know they’re somewhat of a niche group for many compared to Steely Dan.

Donald Fagen, Donald to keep it short, came on stage to the roar of fans and this may have been the most awkward moment of my concert life. I had no idea for a moment who he was. There was so many musicians on stage already I couldn’t keep track at one point. Donald came out with his melodica and the show began. It’s been some time since I have seen jam band style music live but a welcome refresher. Donald and the band played their first couple songs for what felt like forever and yet not long enough. From a mini piano melodica to the keys, Donald lead the band on a smooth start of their set and settle into a, pun intended, groove. I had no idea what to expect from this concert, I thought I would run into my parents peers and some sprinkled in millennial types with their family. Instead I met music loving generations spanning 40 years from all over the region enjoying drinks, friends, and some throwback classics.  


Steely Dan Setlist: 

Fan It, Janet (Maynard Ferguson cover) (Band Only), Green Flower Street(Donald Fagen song), Hey Nineteen, Black Friday, Aja, Time Out of Mind, Deacon Blues, Kid Charlemagne, Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, Godwhacker, Dirty Work, Home at Last, Bodhisattva, Keep That Same Old Feeling, (The Crusaders cover) (Band Only, with Band Introductions), Peg, My Old School
Reelin’ in the Years
(with Drum Solo)
The Untouchables