Hall & Oates I Can\'t Go For That (No Can Do) aka Bland on Bland

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Concert Reviews,   From Issue 640   By: Robert 'Bo' White

28th June, 2007     0

I'm sitting behind home plate at Dow Diamond, its 96 degrees and I'm heated up and melting away. Just as I think I'm unable to tolerate this silent smoldering heat for another second, a wave of cool breeze brushes my face and I'm refreshed and ready for more.

Though not quite in a partying mood, I feel content and settled in and open for whatever the night brings. I don't really know what to expect from  Hall & Oates. I always dug the blue-eyed soul of She's Gone and the funky R&B of Rich Girl but I didn't pay much attention to their later work.

Still, I felt it was an omen after we were seated for the show and a bird winged past us, letting one fly right on top of my head. My wife said don't worry it'll blend in. So comforting, is she.

I'm crunching on some over-priced popcorn and swilling a lukewarm Diet Coke when the band trolls out into the ball field. I think it's the band cos' they are climbing out of the dugout area and walking out toward the stage and the crowd is cheering - must be about a dozen of 'em in various forms, shapes and sizes.

In the middle of the throng, this tall blond - thin and girlish - is walking arm-in-arm with this dark curly-haired, ethnic looking midget.  Well lord have mercy, poop and step in it - it's our heroes. ITS HALL AND OATES!!

They open up with an instrumental, not bad. The 7-piece band is accompanied by a string section that helps anchor the sound - whenever the mix is right. But the goof running the board never did get a good mix and too often the strings sounded like a cheap synthesizer. Maneater sounds good anywayŠthis excellent latter day hit formally opens the show with its funky insistent rhythm and notable lyrical hyjinks. She's sho-nuf gonna chew you up.

At this point I start to eat my wife's popcorn so mine will last longer. As I fumble and grope for another fistful of glorious golden delight, I notice once again that John Hall is a little squirtŠand that this old hippie named T-Bone is honking away on a tenor saxophone, and the band is rocking hard like Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds - I'm expecting Don't Pull Your Love Out any minute - when suddenly they light it up with Say It Isn't So with its ethereal whispered harmonies.

In the course of their 90-minute show, Hall & Oates pulled out all those lugubrious solid-gold hits like Sara Smile, Kiss on My List, Out of Touch and Private Eyes. But when they gargled out Do It For Love I realized that Hall and Oats have the uncanny ability to mix genres like rock, country and soul and come out sounding like Gary Lewis & the Playboys doin' an Elvis tribute.

What really torqued me off though, were all these old folks that waddled into the show half way into it. Can't you ever be on time? Still, Hall & Oates may be the perfect panacea for the dioxin altered chemical crowd. They didn't really hear the schlectified muzak and the fact that Daryl Hall lost his voice. And never mind the funky groove, they were too busy swilling beer, being noticed, and ogling Bill Stavropolous.

Near the end of the show, the pace picked up, despite the fact that One on One dragged on interminably. It started out sweet and nice but it became a prolonged anthem-like opus with an ill-conceived string interlude that accentuated the bland adult contemporary feel of the music.

It seems that the fortunes of the band rise and fall on the strength of Hall's pipes and there were times when he lived up to the promise - dig What's Goin' On, a fabulous rendition of the Marvin Gaye masterpiece - but all too often Hall seemed to lose his concentration as well as his voice, sounding more like Rob Thomas' latest platter of syrupy pap than a rockin' soul demigod.

The two hit-filled encores exemplified Hall and Oates generosity and their willingness to please the crowd. But they never did play Rich Girl and that really honked me off as well.

We can't always be up to the task, sometimes we just make do.

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