Daryl Hall and John Oates

Daryl and John - credit Mick Rock
(Photo by Mick Rock)

Daryl Hall and John Oates
Madison Square Garden
February 19, 2016
Review by David Chiu

Daryl Hall and John Oates’ performance at New York City’s Madison Square Garden for the first time in over 30 years seemed to be a further extension of the momentum they had built in the last 10 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 at Daryl’s House, and their much-belated induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013. Amid an always fickle music scene with its constant changing trends and styles, Hall and Oates have become fashionable again.

That was clearly the case at the sold-out Garden show the other night, 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 biggest arena must have felt like old times for both the headliners and longtime fans circa 1984. And Hall and Oates harkened that feeling when they finally got on stage and performed strictly the hits and then some, kicking it off with “Out of Touch,” 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’ Feeling,” written by Phil Spector, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil–songwriters linked 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 more looser and 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 this extended funk jam highlighted by longtime member Charles DeChant’s saxophone playing. At the end of the show, Hall and Oates brought out Sharon Jones and Mayer Hawthorne where 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 is still something special when the two get together. Daryl Hall kind of acted the role of a charismatic evangelist at times with his gritty voice, while John Oates provided the counterpoint with his soulful lead and harmony singing as well. Backed by a solid band, the duo sounded fresh and vital 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.

Set List:

Out of Touch
Family Man
Maneater
Did It in a Minute
Say It Isn’t So
You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’
Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)
She’s Gone
Sara Smile
Do What You Want, Be What You Are
I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)
Rich Girl
You Make My Dreams

Encore:

Kiss on My List
Private Eyes
Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)” (with Sharon Jones and Mayer Hawthorne)

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