If Starsky and Hutch played music, they would appear as Daryl Hall and John Oates circa 2016 …
For those who grew up adoring the number one Rock duo of all time (sales) and have not seen them for a while, the show last night at The Bell Center must have been shocking.
Daryl Hall is a replica of David Soul merged with The Dude from The Big Lebowski. Oates has lost the big moustache and the Afro-ish hair. A flattened Paul Michael Glaser if you will. The good news? Appearances may have changed but the music is the same old song and dance.
Hall And Oates, arose from the soulful side of Philadelphia, Pa. in the 1970’s. Fusing Pop, Rock, R&B and Soul into one distinct sound. A noise instantly recognizable as was the case in Montreal last night as the tune ‘Maneater’ started things off. The bass as distinctive as a red barn in a field of wheat.
The patrons of the Bell Center aged fifty and up were immersed in nostalgia. It was hard to avoid ManEater or any other Hall and Oates’ songs in the 1980’s. The duo were embraced by the video age as the New Wave / Soulful / Pop – street boys. More than any other duo in history, Hall and Oates rode the cash grab decade and ran with it.
“Out of Touch’ came next and the lightbulbs containing memory filaments circulated like firecrackers at a stag party gone wrong. The only crinkle at first appeared through Hall’s wavery voice. Seemingly not as strong as the eighties and / or on disc. Oates – au contraire, sounding vocally healthy and a slightly older version of himself was strictly physical.
‘Did It in a Minute’, the pair’s Top Ten single from 1981’s Private Eyes LP, lasted about a minute too long. Live in 2016, the song was a shadow of it’s former self and whatever momentum was gained in the evening’s first two songs, petered out faster than a casanova filled with one drink too many. The only good denominator and a foreshadow of things to come – the artful and soulful Sax emerging from Charles DeChant. Solidifying and grounding the sound all night.
An evening filled with so much promise started to feel mailed in. Partly because of the similarities within the duo’s songwriting and partly because … well, the eighties were that way. For a fleeting moment, Hall and Oates were covering Hall and Oates.
‘Say it ain’t So’ was prophetic and a long evening appeared imminent until the great Barry Mann song ‘ You Lost That Lovin’ Feeling’ grabbed the senses. Women were hooked and the men cringed. Le Centre Bell fell victim to soul.
‘This next song took us out of Philly and to places like Montreal ‘. Hall’s words an introduction to the tune which got everything back on track. A groove was hit and the band settled in for the rest of the evening within the 1974 song ‘ Grounds for Separation’. The soul of South Philly never more apparent as Hall and Oates mesmerized the crowd. A perfect lead-in to probably their most soulful ‘Hit’; Sarah Smile’. The latter two songs pre-1980 over production values and an insight into the true songwriting skills of the dynamic duo. If the show last night was a work week, the latter two songs; Wednesday night with Popcorn on the couch.
‘Do What You Want To’ and Sarah Smile showcased beautiful guitar solos by Shane Therriot. Hall and Oates songs are not solo friendly. Therriot made an argument they should be. Along with DeChant on Sax – a double dose of guilty pleasures and a welcome break in the sometimes similar sound of the main act.
Whatever worries on Hall’s vocals were left behind. Hitting his Marvin Gaye / Ray Charles stride, Hall’s initial weak voice an aberration.
‘I Won’t Go for That’ and the encore ‘Rich Girl’ reminded the room of the elephant. Or – in this case; elephants !
The Bell center on it’s feet dancing the night away.
Decipher Hall and Oates as much as you like. Hall is Lennon, Oates is McCartney. The Rock / Blues element combined with the ear-to-the ground sensibility that kept things fresh in yesteryear. Hall and Oates have sold more albums than any other duo in history.
Starsky and Hutch would be proud even though Private Eyes were not necessary but front and center in the end.