Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan Sell Out GSR

The hits just keep on coming as Grand Sierra Resort brought another stellar double-header to the Grand Theatre in the form of The Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan. These two bands’ histories of cross-pollinating their members over the years made for a good match. With these two legendary powerhouses appearing together it was, as it should be, a sold out show.

Doobie Brothers founding members Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston and long-timer John McPhee (member since 1979) were joined by John Cowan (bass), Marc Russo (sax), Ed Toth (drums), Marc Quinones (percussion), and Little Feat’s Bill Payne on keyboards. The Doobie Brothers have lost nothing in terms of their performance. The sound was great, the harmonies were fantastic, and they had the crowd on their feet whenever they wanted it that way. Once they hit “Takin’ it To The Streets” (set list below) they had everybody jumpin’ all the way to their last song, “Listen to The Music.”

After a short break, Steely Dan began with a Maynard Ferguson instrumental that Donald Fagen walked on during to kick off their set with “Josie,” a Becker/Fagen composition from “Aja.” At one point Donald acknowledged his missing partner, Walter Becker, saying that he misses him and wished he was there. This is the first tour since his death from esophageal cancer nine months ago. Rest in peace Walter.

With a vast repertoire of instantly recognizable hit songs from which to choose there were no disappointments in what we heard. The stage setup was fairly straight ahead with no ‘flashy’ props, other than a photograph fronting Donald’s keyboard of Cab Calloway and his band.

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The only issue I noticed (and confirmed by others) was a very poor audio mix on Donald Fagen’s vocals. When the show started it was very ‘hot’ and overdriven to my ears. It sounded like it was on the verge of cracking. It got better as the show moved on, but still didn’t sound as good as it could have. Especially considering it was Donald Fagen!

Historically Fagen and Becker had always hired top-end studio musicians for Steely Dan recordings and touring, so I assume that this tour is no different. Everybody executed their parts flawlessly. Special kudos to drummer Keith Carlock who shined on songs like “Aja” and “Kid Charlemagne.” He is one of the best drummers I’ve heard in a long time. This was a fantastic show that I will remember for a long time.

Here’s a list of the amazing musicians that make up this year’s Steely Dan tour:

Donald Fagen – Keyboard / Melodica / Vocals
Jon Herington – Guitar
Jim Beard – Keyboards
Freddie Washington – Bass
Keith Carlock – Drums
Mark Patterson – Trombone
Marvin Stamm – Trumpet
Walt Weiskopf – Saxophone
Roger Rosenberg – Baritone Saxophone
The Danettes – Vocals / The Moves
– La Tanya Hall
– Catherine Russell
– Carolyn Leonhart 

Steely Dan Set List

“Fan It, Janet”
“Hey Nineteen”
“Black Friday”
“New Frontier”
“Time Out of Mind”
“Kid Charlemagne”
“Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”
“Black Cow”
“Dirty Work”
“Babylon Sister”
“Keep That Same Old Feeling”
“My Old School”
– Encore
“Reelin’ in the Years”
“The Untouchables”

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Doobie Brothers Set List

“Natural Thing”
“Rockin’ Down the Highway”
“Road Angel”
“South City Midnight Lady”
“Dark Eyed Cajun Woman”
“Jesus is Just Alright”
“Eyes of Silver”
“Takin’ it to The Streets”
“The Doctor”
“Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me)”
“Black Water”
“Long Train Running”
– Encore
“China Grove”
“Listen to The Music”

Nick McCabe
About Nick McCabe 45 Articles
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been shooting concerts in the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing interviews on occasion. His musical education and playing experience goes back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for enjoyment. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.