This must have been a first for the UK at least: a gig where the only smoke in the auditorium was of the artificial kind. They were slightly wider in girth and greyer in the locks: and that was just the audience. The symbiosis between Fagen and Becker was clear from the start as they strutted on stage, cocooned by the ten piece 2007 orchestra, which was driving a rhythm tighter than Gordon Brown's wallet. The cauldron of the National Indoor Arena, filled with funk-obsessed forty-somethings, were there for the infrequently touring Steely Dan.
The evening hadn't started well, after all, a dash up the A34 and M40 to Birmingham attempted after work on a wet Thursday is a real misnomer. We crawled along for mile after mile and arrived in the second city well after the support act had taken the stage. Still after parking and some cracking directions from some friendly locals, which took us on a short walk up the extremely picturesque canal side, punctuated by skinny locks and industrial heritage architecture, we arrived at the venue.
Now a feature of all public events, clouds of nicotine greeted us, as the smokers wheezed outside during the break before the main event. At least we had made it, and could let the old timers deliver up a slice of musical legend. The devotees, of which I must admit I cannot really count myself a member, were there in abundance, packing the blacked out space to the rafters.
The sound was tight - real tight - and funkier than I had remembered. After all the last time I had seen these boys was way back in 1996 in Wembley Arena. Then was the first time that they had visited these shores for many a year, and they played a lot of their favourites. But this time they eschewed such musical convention and went on a tour of their own, through their extensive back catalogue.
It also struck me that despite their obvious love of stardom and performing, Walter Becker and Donald Fagen were also democratic, allowing their highly talented band the space to show off their own abilities. This even extended at one point to allow what would normally be called backing singers to take over vocal duties on the track 'Dirty Work' off their very first album. I was really impressed and we left after two hours of classy fusion music, which sounded as fresh today as it had when it left the pens of those viagra propelled jazz-funk superstars.
All in all a great warm up for the next big event: Live Earth!