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Friday, Aug. 10, 2007
By WAYNE GABEL
In their 1970s heyday, when Steely Dan didn't play live, there's no telling how much fans would have paid to see their favorite studio recluses on stage.
Fast forward to 2007 and it's only too clear how much they'll part with for a glimpse of Donald Fagen, Walter Becker and their 10-piece touring band: ¥23,000. That's just ¥4,500 shy of a two-day pass to this weekend's Summer Sonic. What a bargain for 90 minutes of music!
No matter how the dice land, the Dan will make out like bandits when their "Heavy Rollers" tour comes to Japan. Keyboardist/singer Fagen and guitarist Becker will be playing their first shows here since 2000. At each stop, they'll open a new Billboard Live club, starting with the chain's Tokyo venue on Aug. 18 and then Osaka and Fukuoka. The Osaka club occupies the space that housed Osaka Blue Note, which closed Aug. 8.
Steely Dan have earned the right to charge a pretty penny. Between 1972 and 1980, when Fagen and Becker split, the group released seven platinum-selling discs of sophisticated, jazz-tinged pop. Upon reuniting in the early 1990s, the duo began touring, something they hadn't done since 1974, when the Steely Dan lineup was whittled down to a two-man studio project. Fagen and Becker won four Grammys for 2000's "Two Against Nature" and followed up with 2003's "Everything Must Go."
That last title sounds like an ad for the going-out-of-business sales that some clubs will be holding if fans rebel against extortionate ticket prices. Let's hope Steely Dan's box-office coup isn't a sign of things to come.
Steely Dan's Aug 18-24 shows at Billboard Live Tokyo are sold out. They play Aug. 26-Sept. 1 (no show Aug. 29) at Billboard Live Osaka (¥23,000/¥19,000; tel.  6342-7722); Sept. 3-5 Billboard Live Fukuoka (¥21,000; tel.  715-6666), 6:30 and 9 p.m. start (6 and 9 p.m. on Aug. 26, Sept. 1). For details, visit billboard-live.com