The Royal Dutch Scam, Saturday, November 27, 2021, Cultuurpodium Boerderij, Zoetermeer

Posted: 301121

Review Lex Dresianes

Photo courtesy of Marcel Boshuizen (Cultuurpodium Boerderij)

Steely Dan's music is not easy to describe: a mixture of rock, jazz, funk, Latin, R&B and blues, smooth rhythms, virtuoso musicians and special lyrics probably doesn’t do sufficient justice. Messrs Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are responsible for some of the most iconic songs that defined the era. And still to this day. Although Becker passed away in 2017, Fagen continues to share the duo's musical legacy. As comedian/musician Mike Boddé points out: sometimes people don't even know that it’s Steely Dan's music, but most everyone recognizes the songs almost immediately.

Things have changed in recent years, but previously Steely Dan was mainly a studio band; there was little or no live performance, especially in the early days. No wonderthere’s certainly interestamong bands to revisitthe music. But that is no mean feat: the music is characterized by complex rhythms, special chord changes, intricate melodies and arrangements and many more things that make it extremely difficult for mere mortals to copy. In addition, the original used the very best of the (studio) musicians available. Solo spots were played by several world class musicians, if it wasn't to the liking of the demanding duo Fagen/Becker it soon meant: next! Take that as a true musician, one heck of a challenge.

However, The Royal Dutch Scam, which has been active for many years, succeeds wonderfully. Not surprising in itself: they are all top musicians, the crème de la crème of the Dutch scene, who have earned their spurs with the likes of Marco Borsato, Frank Boeijen and Ilse de Lange, among others. And, in most cases, know the complex tracks by heart. The name is a funny play on words, a contraction of Royal Dutch (Shell) and the title of Steely Dan's fifth album "The Royal Scam" from 1976.

For this series of shows, the band has teamed up with the aforementioned Mike Boddé. He acts as ringmaster and plays the piano. He hasn't quite found his feet yet, made apparent by fiddling with cheat sheets about the many interesting facts and anecdotes that are discussed. His piano parts are played from the tablature, no shame in that. The role of presenter was previously reserved for bandleader/saxophonist/singer Lo 'Garp' van Gorp. This time the focus for the sympathetic frontman is mainly on vocals and playing his alto-sax, he seems somewhat relieved by this role change.

A large part of the well-known hits of the legendary American band will be played this evening: it kicks off with FM (no static at all) and closes with Reelin' in the Years. In between are Babylon Sisters, Glamour Profession, Rikki don't lose that number, My Old School, Do it Again and Gaucho. And, fortunately, also perfect renditions of personal favorites such as Aja, Peg and Hey Nineteen. The highlight of the evening is a medley of all songs that were not supposed to be played (in their entirety). We are treated to short versions of Kid Charlemagne, Black Cow, Home at Last, Green Earrings and Bodhisattva.

Boddé touches on Steely Dan's paradox several times: beautiful, swinging music with a sharp lyrical edge: murder, suicide, incest, adultery, drugs and prostitution, certainly not for the faint hearted.

Although it is difficult to single out an individual performance, I would like to give extra compliments to drummer Mark Stoop and tenor saxophonist Tom Beek, absolute top-class what these guys demonstrate here. But everyone brought their 'A-game' this evening, including the swinging trio of female backing singers. There is only one downside: the gig lasted a mere 1.5 hours including encore, somewhat meager, especially with so much material available. So no Josie, Black Friday or Dirty Work but there is plenty to enjoy. Possibly the second show, later that evening, is partly to blame for the short duration.

About 180 men/women sign up for the first session: the matinee show starts at 4:30 pm, all seated. And I can tell you, it's quite comfortable. The disadvantage is that because of this theatrical setting, sitting to the right of the stage meant I never saw the third singer. Sound and light are, as usual, excellent, partly due to the presence of permanent sound engineer Lex Amrein behind the controls.

This intimate setting fits perfectly with the nature of the music, you get the idea of ​​a small jazz club. The connoisseur crowd reacts enthusiastically and treats the band members to a generous applause after each solo spot, as befits a jazz audience. The smooth and warm lead vocals, the steady groove of the drums, the funky bass, the jazzy keys, the sharp edges of the guitar, the funky/jazzy horns, not forgetting the swinging, soulful choruses, it all fits brilliantly and can easily withstand the comparison with the original.

When you consider that the original parts come from world class session players like Steve Gadd, Wayne Shorter and Larry Carlton, to name just a few, it demonstrates the capabilities of The Royal Dutch Scam’s musicians. This is without a doubt the best tribute band of ‘The Dan’ at the moment, a huge compliment.

The second show, later that evening, would also irrevocably mean the very last show before the start of the lockdown, the day after: the joke quickly spread that health minister Hugo de Jonge was a great admirer.

I've said before that I'm not a fan of tribute bands whose originals still exist; in fact, as I write this, Fagen cs. are in the middle of a major US tour. But this is the exception to the rule, what a great band. I had a wonderful afternoon and so did many others, I assume that the second session had the same effect on the audience. How can one sit still while listening to the music?! Go and see them as soon as you can: this is pure enjoyment.