Steely Dan play first UK show after death of Walter Becker

The cult jazz fusion band played The O2 as part of Bluesfest

Steely Dan have played their first UK show since the death of founder member Walter Becker, who passed away last month at the age of 67.

A symbolic empty mic stand sat in the middle of the stage for the duration of the show on Sunday night (October 29), which took place at The O2 in London as part of Bluesfest. Becker’s musical partner Donald Fagen paid tribute to him during the gig, commenting: “We’re a little different than we were a few a months ago but I gotta live with that.” The New York-born Becker played both guitar and bass in Steely Dan, while also contributing backing vocals. Along with lead vocalist and keyboardist Fagen, the two remained Steely Dan’s only core members throughout their career.

The 12 piece band played a groove-ridden set that drew upon the band’s classic albums from the 1970s, including ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number’, ‘Bodhisattva’, ‘My Old School’ and ‘Peg’ as well as ‘Hey Nineteen’ and ‘Babylon Sisters’ from 1980’s ‘Gaucho’. Backing vocals came from the three ‘Danettes’

“We don’t get here so often, so it’s fantastic that you’re here,” said Fagen to the crowd, referencing the band’s rare UK appearance at Bluefest, which saw them supported by classic American rock band The Doobie Brothers.

Steely Dan, who became a studio-only outfit after retiring from touring in 1974 split in 1981. Fagen and Becker reunited in 1993 to resurrect Steely Dan, and released two more albums – the most recent being 2003’s ‘Everything Must Go’ – while also resuming touring duties in recent years.

Steely Dan played:

‘Black Cow’
‘Hey Nineteen’
‘New Frontier’
‘Black Friday’
‘Babylon Sisters’
‘Dirty Work’
‘Time Out Of Mind’
‘I Want To (Do Everything For You)’
‘My Old School’
‘Kid Charlemagne’
‘Reelin’ In The Years’
‘The Untouchables’