After going to see the exhibition of van Gogh’s at Compton Verney and calling on a friend in Stratford, we rounded off a wonderful day with a Nearly Dan gig in the town. Nearly Dan are thee Steely Dan tribute band.
We had seen them earlier this year and they were superb yet again.
This is their tenth year together and their endless touring has resulted in a tightness of sound impossible to describe. There are ten band members on stage – there has to be to reproduce the richness of Steely Dan’s original songs – but the line up was slightly different to when we last saw them.
They have a different drummer this time, Carl Hemmingsley, whose grooves and style we loved, and one of the backing singers, Sarah Miller, was new – and enjoying herself hugely, you could hear it in her voice. Also new in was Tim France who deserves particular praise as this was only his second gig with the band and he played with both note-perfect confidence and great expression. You rocked, babe!
I’d also like to mention the bass player Pete Bacanin. Bass players rarely get a mention, but Pete should be singled out as not only is he the man who’s idea it was to start Nearly Dan, but he’s also a cracking bassist.
I can’t big up the whole band or we’d be here until Christmas, but the astonishing musicianship of all band members can’t be overstated. Paul Bennett on the trumpet played his little heart out. You were on fire, darling!
How do you choose a set list from the Steely Dan back catalogue? I have no idea, but they did play some of my favourites including ‘Green Earrings’, ‘Black Cow’, ‘Aja’ and Donald Fagan’s ‘The Nightfly’. They performed many of the hits, including ‘Josie’ and ‘Peg’ but I was delighted they didn’t bother with ‘Do it again’ or ‘Haitian Divorce’ which are largely over-played.
They also played ‘My old school’, which was spooky as earlier that day after leaving the van Gogh exhibition just two miles from my old school near Stratford, I couldn’t resist driving there and seeing the ghastly old dump. I wish I never gone there at all, let alone ‘never gone back’ as the lyrics go. It was good to go back though, if only to stick two fingers up at it and consider what I’d learned in the 24 years since I left.
After ten years together Nearly Dan are still enjoying themselves and delighting their audiences. I was right at the front having a damned good sing-song, safe in the knowledge no one could hear me above the huge jazzy/funky sound of the band.
Can’t wait until the next gig now – please come to Oxford sometime!
Photos: reproduced with kind permission from Gary Davies of Nearly Dan.