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Steely Dan strips it down to the music at Venetian residency

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Erik Kabik/erikkabik. com Steely Dan anchor Donald Fagen performs (with bassist Freddie Washington behind him) at the Venetian on April 12.

Saturday, April 15, 2017|2 a.m.

. While sitting dead-center in the Venetian’s spacious Opaline Theatre and allowing the warmth of Steely Dan’s 1977 jazz-rock opus “Aja” to wash over me, I realized something: We really need to adjust the characterization of exactly what is presently being called the Las Vegas residency.

That’s not to say the classically non-traditional rock band’s nine-show run here, which began Wednesday and continues through completion of the month, does not be worthy of the residency tag. It’s simply that lumping this long, sluggish, deep groove of a concert into the very same Vegas show category as Ricky Martin’s brand-new panoramic extravaganza at Monte Carlo or Britney Spears’ dance party at World Hollywood might be a bit confusing. Do you want to see a program, or do you wish to hear some music? Today’s Strip offers plenty of both.

The Dan’s fans certainly knew what they wanted on opening night. The audience emerged when Donald Fagen and Walter Becker stepped on stage as their band concluded Maynard Ferguson’s swinging “Fan It, Janet.” They opened with Aja’s “Black Cow” before toppling into their very popular album’s title track, an extended, intricate jam that made more lengthy applause.

After that early highlight, other standouts included ’72 pop gem “Dirty Work,” and guitar epics “Peg” and “Reelin’ In the Years.” They didn’t play anything from 2000 Grammy Album of the Year Two Against Nature, closing with the winding, time travel-themed “Pretzel Reasoning” then the walkoff huge band style from the old Untouchables TV program. As anticipated, Steely Dan’s visiting ensemble is a design of musical flexibility, and on Wednesday night, the locked-in combo of bassist Freddie Washington and drummer Keith Carlock moved the program … er, sorry, the show.

Steely Dan: Reelin’ in the Chips continues April 15, 19, 21, 22, 26, 28 and 29 at the Opaline Theatre at the Venetian. Find tickets at 702-414-9000 or ticketmaster.com.