Daryl Hall and John Oates’ performance at New York City’s Madison Square Garden for the first time in over three decades seemed to be a further extension of the momentum they had built in the last ten years. While they’ll always be forever associated with the ‘80s, the period of their greatest commercial success, the two have experienced a renewed appreciation for their music mostly due to Hall’s web music performance series “Live From Daryl’s House”, and their much-belated induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. Amid the constant changing trends and styles in music, Hall and Oates have become fashionable again.
That was clearly the case at the sold-out Garden show in February, a mostly rock and soul affair, with guests Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings and Mayer Hawthorne opening for the duo. While the gig drew mostly older fans now in their ‘50s and ‘60s, there were also a few younger ones in attendance—a testament of Hall and Oates’ continued appeal to different generations, as hits like “Rich Girl”, “She’s Gone”, “Kiss on My List” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)” still get airplay decades later.
A packed house in “the worlds’s most famous arena” must have felt like old times for both the headliners and longtime fans circa 1984. Hall and Oates hearkened back that feeling when they finally got on stage and performed strictly the hits and then some—kicking it off with “Out of Touch” and followed by such classics as “Maneater”, “Say It Isn’t So”, “She’s Gone” and “Sara Smile”. They and the band also unearthed some of the lesser-known hits including “Family Man” and “Did It in a Minute”, along with deeper cuts from the ‘70s like “Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)” and “Do What You Want, Be What You Are”. Appropriately, Hall and Oates paid homage to another blue-eyed soul duo, the Righteous Brothers, with their cover of “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’”, written by Phil Spector, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil—songwriters linked to New York City’s Brill Building sound.
Those songs and the other bigger hits performed later in the show, including “Kiss on My List” and “Private Eyes”, sounded looser and more organic in a live setting than their original studio incarnations, giving more of an opportunity for the band to stretch out musically. For example “I Can’t Go for That” became like an extended funk jam highlighted by longtime member Charlie DeChant’s saxophone playing. At the end of the show, Hall and Oates brought out Sharon Jones and Mayer Hawthorne in which they all performed the Delfonics’ classic “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)”—fittingly bringing the proceedings to their soulful conclusion.
In the last couple of years, Hall and Oates have worked on their own individual solo projects, but there’s still something special when the two get together. Hall acted the role of a charismatic evangelist at times with his gritty voice, while Oates provided the counterpoint with his soulful lead and harmony singing as well. Backed by a solid band, the duo sounded fresh during the Garden show, not bad for an act that is approaching 50 years and still enjoying a renaissance late in their career. These days, it’s kind of hip to be a Hall and Oates fan.
Out of Touch
Did It in a Minute
Say It Isn’t So
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)
Do What You Want, Be What You Are
I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)
You Make My Dreams
Kiss on My List
Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” (with Sharon Jones and Mayer Hawthorne)