Unlike many ‘70s-era groups, Hall & Oates very much moved with the times. Even before there was any place to show them, they were making videos. And while never fully comfortable with the medium, it helped propel them to massive success in the 1980s. Well, that and an arsenal of incredible songs.
Even though they haven’t been in the top 10 since 1988, despite continuing to write solid songs into this century, the duo packed Riverbend last Wednesday night. With no new album to promote, it was a string of it hit singles for the enthusiastic crowd. Of course, with such a deep catalog, a lot of favorites got left behind. Still, it was a pleasant batting order and one that illustrated their ability to adjust to the musical world around them, while still managing to maintain their sound through five decades.
They kicked it all off with their biggest single ever, “Maneater.” From the start, though, Hall’s voice seemed to lack its usual soaring qualities. It was as if he was keeping it reserved as not to stain it. However, a few songs later, on “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” their hit cover of the Righteous Brothers classic, he was belting it out like it was 1980.
John Oates, by the way, sounded great on his shared leads as well as on the backing vocals. Hall meanwhile, continued to manage his voice, making sure he sounded great right through both encores. Also sounding great was the duo’s backing band. Throughout the evening, each member got at least one chance to break loose.
Hall and Oates are currently assisted by Charles DeChant, whose been with them since 1976, on saxophone, flute, percussion, keyboards, and backing vocals . Also on board are Brian Dunne on drums, Eliot Lewis on keyboards and backing vocals, Klyde Jones on bass and backing vocals, Porter Carroll on percussion and extraordinary backing vocals, and Shane Theriot on guitars and backing vocals.
The whole band enjoyed an extended jam session on “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” which ended the main set, but it would have been nice if some of that could have been shaved down in order to include “Family Man,” “Method of Modern Love,” or even “Every Time You Go Away.”
The encores were well planned, with two massive tracks for each, three of them number ones (“Rich Girl,” “Kiss is on My List,” and “Private Eyes”). Before rocketing into the encores the duo thanked the crowd, with Hall giving additional thanks to those who have watched his online TV program Live from Daryl’s House. That, combined with the high-energy finish likely had the fan base wondering why we don’t have some new Hall & Oates music.
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.