Making the old sound new
Hall & Oates tweak hit songs with good results
By Steve Metsch
When you have as many well-known hit songs as do Hall & Oates, it’s difficult to tour without sounding like a greatest hits album.
You’ve got to tweak some of the songs to keep things fresh, not only for the audience, but for the band. Slow some songs down, add some solos, extend the time, things like that.
Hall & Oates did all of the above – and with pretty good results – when they played the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park the lovely summer night of Aug. 26.
They opened with “Maneater” which, frankly, was too slow. The song still sounds good, but the pace could’ve been increased a bit.
After that, Daryl Hall summed up what 99.9 percent of the crowd was probably thinking with “It’s good to be back in the world.” The outdoor venue was about two-thirds filled.
This concert, like so many others, had been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Although it was outdoors, a smattering of people wore masks, making it more difficult to gulp down their overpriced cans of beer.
“Out of Touch” was played pretty much as we remember it, filled with the delightful pop hooks that helped Hall & Oates sell millions of records over the years.
The afore-mentioned solos, this one by the band’s longtime saxophonist Charles DeChant, added much to “Say It Isn’t So.”
Being one of the biggest-selling duos in music history, it’s only fitting they dusted off their 1980 cover of another famed duo, The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.” And, they sounded as good as they did 41 years ago.
With that in mind, I was kind of surprised they did not cover any songs by The Everly Brothers, after Don Everly passed away on Aug. 21. That would’ve been a nice tribute, a la what Dwight Yoakam did when he and his band played “Bye Bye Love” in Joliet on Aug. 22.
Hall’s voice sounds a tad deeper at age 74 then at age 34. But overall, he still sounds terrific. It was a relief that, unlike many other aging rockers, he didn’t strain to hit high notes found effortlessly so many years ago.
The seldom-heard “Back Together Again,” that features more singing than usual by Oates, 73, fit the mood of the evening, as he noted.
The show ended after 10 songs and 60 minutes, but the band soon returned for four songs in a 30-minute encore.
It’s hard to top the quartet of “Rich Girl,” the 1976 hit that put the band on the map; the impossibly catchy “Kiss on My List;” the powerful pop smash “Private Eyes” and “You Make My Dreams,” which featured each musician having time in the spotlight. Played a bit slower than the original, “Private Eyes” still packs a wallop, and was one of the best songs of the evening.
Was it a perfect show? Nah. No show ever is. Could they have played a bit longer than 90 minutes? Certainly. “Family Man” and “Adult Education” will have to wait for their next visit. But it was still a very enjoyable night of music.
The pop band Squeeze – with original members Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford – opened with a powerful hour-long set. “Black Coffee in Bed,” Tempted” and “Pulling Mussels” were in the mix, along with an outstanding version of “Annie Get Your Gun.”
Squeeze’s sound system was actually a bit better than that of Hall & Oates. That’s odd. Usually, the headliner sounds better than the opening act. Hall & Oates had moments where solos were tough to hear. Not Squeeze.