Review: Nearly Dan, The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, Saturday, January 30

Nearly Dan, who appeared at The Apex, in Bury St Edmunds, on Saturday.

Nearly Dan, who appeared at The Apex, in Bury St Edmunds, on Saturday. - Credit: Archant

There’s tribute acts aplenty on the circuit and many that come close to the original thing.

And one that is within a hair’s breadth of emulating their idols graced the stage of The Apex, at the weekend.

They may not be the real thing but my goodness, close your eyes and you could just imagine being in the presence of the inimitable Steely Dan.

Aficionados of the music of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were out in force to see Nearly Dan run through a pulsating two hour-plus show full of the duo’s well know ... and some less familiar tracks.

The nine-piece outfit were superb in every department as they helped recreate over 20 songs coming back on stage to a raucous encore and pounding out “My Old School”.

Singer and frontman Steve Hayes was suffering with a bit of “man flu” but it did not detract from the performance and kind of added a bit of a raw edge to his voice ... and he was in great form in his rapport with the audience.

All the classics from the Steely Dan songbook were there including “Doctor Wu”, “Black Cow”, “The Caves of Altamira”, “Babylon Sisters”, “Hey Nineteen”, “Bodhisattva”, “Don’t Take Me Alive”, “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”, “Haitian Divorce”, “Black Friday”, “Peg”, “Kid Charlemagne” and “Reelin’ In The Years”.

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I guess the only slight disappointment was “Aja” not being on their playlist for the evening.

But that did not detract from what was a wonderful evening’s entertainment from what is fast becoming one of the best tribute acts of its kinds doing the rounds for nearly two decades.

Nearly Dan began life around 1995 as a five-piece band performing quality cover versions at venues in Stoke-on-Trent. The initial set included a few Steely Dan classics and it was clear that there was a natural affinity for the crafted grooves and lyrical style of Fagen and Becker.

More Dan songs were added and before long a major proportion of the set was comprised of Steely Dan’s catalogue. It was then that the suggestion of a tribute band was mooted and they became billed as Nearly Dan

Intensive rehearsal soon followed, and in April 1997 all the hard work culminated in an opening gig in Stoke. Since then, Nearly Dan have toured consistently all over the UK and Europe, gaining acclaim for their performances.

Nearly Dan’s approach is truly faithful and relaxed but as tight as their namesakes, and their uncannily precise imitations are testament to hours of rehearsal and a great deal of talent.

And yes, it really is as close as seeing, and hearing, the real thing.