FOR as long as aging rock stars make parodies of themselves at Glastonbury and at touring auditoria it is fair to say there will always be a place for the tribute act.
And why not? Some of them are very good or at least have good names. I’ve been at least slightly swayed by the charms of ABBAtoir, No Way Sis, Proxy Music, Judith Priest, Lez Zeppelin, Stereophonies, Estrogenesis, Take Fat and Motorheadache, to name but a few.

So when I saw Stanley Dee were playing at The Horns – yes, you guessed it, the Steely Dan tribute band who are not to be confused with Stealing Dan (not seen), Nearly Dan (seen, good) and Aja (no points for even trying) – it was a must-see attraction.

Now anyone familiar with our town’s chief live music pub will know we are not talking the likes of the The Albert Hall when it comes to space so accommodating the ten-piece Stanley Dee was a bit of a mission. Still jostling for space a bit they managed to wrangle through the night and give us the best of a very sizeable back catalogue of super fine songs.

I should point out here that I’ve seen the real thing more than once – Wembley Arena in 2000 and twice at Hammersmith Apollo before that. In fact, in 2002 I flew with my husband out to New York to see the Dan play at the Roseland Ballroom and ended up in the Bar Bat getting chummy with legendary vocalist Cynthia Calhoun. But that’s another story. Suffice to say I’ve listened to Steely Dan’s music a lot so when Stanley Dee soundchecked My Old School, I almost got my coat... but I’m so glad I did not. 

Over a two and a half hour set they wowed us with one of my particular favourites, Pearl of The Quarter, as well as Barrytown and The Caves of Altamira. Highlights included a refreshed version of My Old School that was so much better than the warm-up, some suberb vocals on Dirty Work from the backing singers, and Doctor Wu, which the real Steely Dan rarely perform. 

After the break we were dancing in the aisles and everywhere else to Kid Charlemagne, rocking out to Reeling In The Years, punching the air to Don't Take Me Alive and getting down to Bodhisattva

Fantastic stuff and all free if you disregard the 30p drinks levy. Frankly I’d pay a lot more to hear the likes of this again and blissfully I won’t have long to wait as they play the Oddfellows Arms in Apsley in April, Dunfest, Tring in May and are back at the Horns in June.

I’ll get my Steely Dan T-shirt...

Melanie Dakin