Hall & Oates, Consummate Soft-Rock Legends, Still Smooth as Hell

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No opener. No mistakes. No messing about.

The best word to describe Saturday night’s Hall & Oates show is "perfect." The 5,500 fans attending the sold-out concert saw two masters of their craft show up on time, bang out a 14-song set list (with two encores) containing the very best of their hits (and there’s a lot of those), and walk off the stage as if it were nothing. Truth be told, when it comes to this pair of living legends, it really was nothing.

Those arriving late missed the Philly duo begin with perhaps their greatest, or at least best-known, hit single, “Maneater,” immediately working the crowd into a frenzy. It’s the sort of song a band typically closes with, but not Hall & Oates, who rewrote the rules of contemporary soul and pop during a massively successful run in the '70s and '80s.

They followed that up with a heavier, arena-rock version of “Out of Touch.” While still letting the song retain its jazzy, smooth-as-glass sheen, they ramped up the energy with beefy guitar fuzz. These were the first of many classics they played, often tweaking the songs just enough to make them feel fresh but never unrecognizable. “She's Gone,” “Sara Smile,” “I Can't Go for That,” “Rich Girl,” “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes,” and their iconic cover of the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" all rocked the indoor stadium.
It was clear from the cheers at the start of every subsequent track that, despite Hall & Oates staying out of the limelight over the past decade or two with the exception of the occasional reunion tour, they still possess a hold on the hearts and minds of music fans. Daryl Hall and John Oates penned earworms so pervasive and eternally catchy that, even if it’s been years since the crowd heard those familiar lyrics and notes, once the show got going, the embedded melodies rose from the fathoms of their souls and poured out in unified choruses.

Of course, also in harmony were the longtime friends and songwriting partners. At one point, when Hall didn’t quite catch something Oates had said to him, Hall declared that it was “more important to be in tune [with one another] than to hear what you’re saying.” Their six-piece backing band was just as in-tune, with several players shining during outstanding solo performances. One, Charles DeChant, an Orlando native and the band’s long-serving saxophonist, with his snowy wizard hair and sparkling black suit, provided a majority of the show’s bluesiest moments, courtesy of his stellar solos.

The reminder that a Hall & Oates concert is a rare beast came when Hall thanked fans not just for supporting their career but his own individual work as well. In the middle of their tour through the band’s greatest hits, he smuggled in a promotional reference to his show, Live From Daryl’s House, revealing that new episodes would begin airing in the spring of 2016.
Hall & Oates wrote some of the slickest, sexiest songs of the late 20th Century. And yes, that includes “Did It in a Minute,” a song featuring so many synths and being so stereotypically '80s that it could be the theme song to any number of sitcoms (think Charles in Charge or The Greatest American Hero). During the first encore, as Hall opened his mouth to sing “You're a rich girl, and you've gone too far,” he had a sly, knowing smile on his face that seemed to say, “Yeah, I know what you like.” They were what pop music begged for then and what fans, 30 years later, still love, regardless of how they or the songs have aged. 

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