Monday, September 18, 2017

Concert review: Daryl Hall and John Oates, Tears for Fears, Allen Stone: Los Angeles, Calif.

photo: Kelly Swift
When Daryl Hall introduced "One on One" at Staples Center by saying, “sometimes life is about contrast,” he also could have been referring to the tour match up with Tears for Fears.

Here you had two acts that originated on opposite shores (America, England), started in different decades (‘70s, ‘80s) and first gained attention via separate radio formats (pop, modern rock) before crossing over into other genres.

Yet they ended up being a perfect match in Los Angeles. Both bands were rousingly received by concertgoers (though younger leaning TFF enthusiasts stood more often). Despite being postponed from an earlier date in July, the venue was still packed on Thursday. The bill continued on Friday.

Between stage changeovers, interesting “Live from Daryl’s House” series highlights (like Jason Mraz) and enticing John Oates solo videos were played on the venue screens. Speaking of solo material: Oates next album, the Americana-flavored "Arkansas," is due in March.

In Oates’ highly recommended memoir “Change of Seasons,” which came out last spring, he writes that the duo’s six-piece band “does subtle things within the music,” “keeps us hungry to push things further” and helps “breathe new life into the songs.” A prime example was “Family Man.” It launched the engaging, hit-laden 90-minute from Daryl Hall and John Oates set as lead guitarist Shane Theriot added an impressive solo (among several throughout the evening) into the sinewy groove.

A few shimmering guitar notes immediately drew loud cheers for “Say it Isn’t So.” Following laid-back takes on “Maneater” and the Righteous Brothers’ cover “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”, romantic ballad “One on One” featured lush backing vocals by Oates and the others.

“She’s Gone,” accompanied by the LP cover photo of 1973’s “Abandoned Luncheonette,” was an early highlight where the duo’s harmonies were smooth as ever. Moving from guitar to black grand piano, Hall seemed more comfortable. He added his trademark soulful accents during “Sara Smile.”

The set’s deep album slot went to ‘Is it a Star,” off 1974’s experimental Todd Rundgren-produced “War Babies.” Though nobody in my vicinity seemed to recognize it, the jazz-meets-prog rock tune was a good change of pace. Hall was obviously having a blast. Then the sumptuous, funky 10-minute workout “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do) saw many people dancing up a storm.

Come encore time, Hall & Oates blitzed through an upbeat “Rich Girl,” “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes” and the ubiquitous, but always fun “You Make My Dreams” – their most streamed song on Spotify (at nearly 135 million). All told, the night was virtually wall-to-wall hits.

photo: Kelly Swift
Emerging to Lorde’s haunting take on “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” Tears for Fears opened its nuanced 75-minute set with that still-buoyant 1985 U.S. chart topper (I constantly spun the 12” vinyl extended mix in high school).

The orchestral grandeur of 2004’s “Secret World,” with a nod to Paul McCartney & Wings, and “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” were stellar as always. Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal played them with feeling and the latter musician paused for dramatic effect while singing “the politics of greed.”

Smith introduced the scintillating “Advice for the Young at Heart” by wishing his daughter a happy 18th birthday and expressed his love. That made the line “soon we will be older” ring even more true. Despite a sound snafu-caused delay, the rare live appearance of a gilded, sax-laden “The Working Hour” was worth the wait.

Other synth-pop cornerstones of KROQ’s mid-‘80s playlists - “Change” and “Mad World” - were given stirring vocal deliveries by Smith. They were well-received and set standouts. The ominous, slowly enveloping “Memories Fade” bore a tougher sound. Before singing lead on their strong cover of Radiohead’s “Creep,” Orzabal joked about his partner breaking a finger on the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios. Then he led the audience in a singalong.

Later, the spirited “Break it Down Again” and “Head Over Heels/Broken” were electrifying. Dynamic encore “Shout,” with its spiraling chant, took the energy level to an even-higher plane.

Allen Stone warmed up the early arrivals with a soulful 20-minute set. Playing alone on electric guitar, the Seattle musician (who has appeared on a "Daryl's House" episode) drew modest crowd attention during "Sleep," "Upside" and some transitions into Roberta Flack and The Weeknd song snippets.

A version of my review originally ran at and

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