Saturday, August 10, 2013

Hall & Oates concert review: Costa Mesa, Calif.

My review originally appeared at Photos by Kelly Swift.

When Daryl Hall described "Sara Smile" as "so real it defies time," he easily could be describing the memorable body of work crafted with musical partner John Oates over a 30-year period.

Hall & Oates, one of the most successful duos in rock history, brought their sleek blend of pop, rock and soul to the OC Fair on Thursday night for a sold-out show at Pacific Amphitheatre.

It was the pair's first Costa Mesa appearance since 2001, not to mention a rare local large-venue gig.

While no original music has emerged from them since the 2006 holiday collection "Home for Christmas," both artists have kept busy with solo albums and other projects.

Hall has developed his acclaimed Internet-turned-TV performance series "Live from Daryl's House," with fresh episodes due this fall on Palladia and other syndicated stations. He's also delved into home renovations, with another program, "Daryl's Restoration Over-Hall," set to debut on the DIY network next year.

Oates recently unveiled a monthly singles subscription series called "Good Road to Follow," with eclectic offerings so far including "High Maintenance," bolstered by teen pop group Hot Chelle Rae, and the bluesy "Don't Cross Me Wrong," featuring Vince Gill and Bekka Bramlett.

The next selection, "Let's Drive," will be available next week via or iTunes.

Barring a few exceptions, Hall & Oates' laid-back 80-minute set at Pacific was a bonanza of Top 10 hits spanning 1973-84. Backed by the tight six-piece band familiar to regular viewers of "Daryl's House," they opened with a respectable "Out of Touch."

Saxophonist and keyboardist Charlie DeChant, a mainstay since the '80s, provided plenty of sharp horn solos that lent more vitality to the measured tempos of "Say It Isn't So" and "Maneater" (Oates echoed the latter's sax line with his guitar).

The headliners plus Paul Pesco handled electric guitar on a majority of tunes, resulting in a full-bodied sound.

As is so often the case during Pacific Amphitheatre shows, some people in the orchestra section were chatty distractions at first, but gradually paid more attention as the concert wore on.

"We're going back to the beginning when we were Philly boys," explained Hall, before indulging breezy concert fave "Las Vegas Turnaround," a gem from 1973's platinum album Abandoned Luncheonette.

With these guys, everything boils down to soulful harmonies. In a half-dozen songs, they were sparkling, evidenced during "She's Gone" (still stunning) and "Sara Smile," the audience singing along and responding enthusiastically.

Switching to keyboards, Hall did his trademark intro vamp on "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)," an extended main-set closer that had fans dancing in the aisles to its jazzy groove, with creamy backing vocals and fluttering flute work by DeChant.

The musicians loosened up more and had fun with some call-and-response shouts; even percussionist Porter Carroll got a brief vocal spotlight.

But everything rose to a higher level during encore highlights: "Rich Girl," the punchy pop of "You Make My Dreams" and "Kiss on My List" (with Pesco running across the stage to solo) and finally the hand-clapping frenzy of "Private Eyes."

Too bad they stopped before 10 p.m., still clearly on a roll after only 13 songs, leaving fans wanting more. 

Set list: Daryl Hall & John Oates at Pacific Amphitheatre 
Main set: Out of Touch / Family Man / Say It Isn't So / How Does It Feel to Be Back? / Las Vegas Turnaround / She's Gone / Sara Smile / Maneater / I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)
First encore: Rich Girl / You Make My Dreams
Second encore: Kiss on My List / Private Eyes

Check out fellow OC Register contributor Robert Kinsler's review of the show here: 


Robert Kinsler said...

I love Hall & Oates. Thanks for writing a review of an excellent show (H&A got an A; the crowd got a F)...

Robert Kinsler said...

Thanks for writing an excellent review. My wife and I loved Hall & Oates, although the crowd around us was pretty drunk and terrible. Why can't they enjoy the great music making without falling over drunk?

newwavegeo said...

I appreciate the feedback! OC Fair shows seem to be notorious for attracting people who have little interest in the music and just want to chat.