Initially firing on all cylinders from behind his Hammond Organ to pump out perennial soul club banger I’m A Man, Winwood played a career showcase of influential highlights including: Buddy Miles/Hendrix Them Changes, Blind Faith’s Can’t Find My Way Home, Traffic’s Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys and a show-stopping Mr. Fantasy which fully displayed his stunning electric guitar work.
To further remind of his chart-topping 1980s day job, Higher Love had the arena out of their seats busting a move or two. As did the 60s smash hit Keep On Running from his Spencer Davis Group days.
Winwood proved tonight that his voice still has that impressive heart full of soul as he left the stage with applause echoing around Wembley’s vast arena.
All of which set up the usual high expectations for a Steely Dan show which did not disappoint, notwithstanding the acoustic limitations of this cavernous and uncomfortable arena.
Taking to the stage as the jaunty opening strains of instrumental jazz tune Cubano Chant faded, the love from the audience towards Donald Fagen was so palpable you could almost touch and feel it. This was especially poignant given the recent passing of his songwriting and band partner Walter Becker.
Seated at his keyboard, Fagen led this collective band of crack musicians through one of the finest back catalogues of jazz fusion to emerge from this genre.
The racy snap on Bodhisattva breezed beautifully along, as did tonight’s set, as Jon Harrington’s guitar then bent out the notes to Hey Nineteen’s intro. From which both audience and band plunged into the deep end of the tonight’s entertainment and didn’t come up for breath until lights up.
Joined by Steve Winwood for a smoking, bluesy Pretzel Logic both he and Fagen channelled their inner Ray Charles as they burned up the boards on this smouldering early ‘Dan number.
The breathtaking Instrumental fluidity between all players, especially the four-man horn section on the perfectly executed signature horn riff to Peg, was manna to the ears. All the accomplished players plied their craft to spellbinding effect throughout the entirety of this evening’s Everest of musical feats.
A further surprise guest appearance by guitarist Elliott Randall to sinuously play his original lead guitar parts, apparently Jimmy Page’s favourite guitar solo, on Reelin’ In The Years was a thrilling coda to a superlative evening of top-class vibes.