And to think, all this time I thought Hall sang the “I can’t go for that”s and Oates took the “No can do”s!
Snicker at me for being excited about Friday night’s Hall & Oates show at the Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, but I was far from the only one. As showtime approached, a massive line stretched through the casino’s outer ring, prompting one passing couple to observe, “I had no idea Hall & Oates were this popular!”
Neither did I, though when folks like The Killers’ Brandon Flowers and Gym Class Heroes’ Travis McCoy—the backs of whose hands are covered with tattoos of Daryl and John—are singing your praises, a full-on retro movement must be afoot. Sure enough, Friday’s crowd was split pretty evenly between those old enough to have danced to ’70s mega-hits “Sara Smile” and “She’s Gone” at their high school proms and those young enough not to have been born when ’80s mega-hits “Private Eyes” and “Maneater” were roller rink fixtures.
Like virtually everyone else in the world, I was pushed to my breaking point back in the day when the radio and MTV settled into their every-fifth-song-must-be-Hall-&-Oates rotation, particularly when dreck like “Adult Education” and “Method of Modern Love” started making the rounds. But as I geared up for the duo’s Vegas stopover with a quick spin through a H&O greatest-hits disc, I realized I’d actually come to miss many of the songs I’d once grown to despise.
The show confirmed it. Both men, averaging 60 years old, were in fine voice, particularly Hall, for whom the term “blue-eyed soul” was always a reverse-racist insult. Dude always could sing, even if cheesed-out production increasingly obscured that fact as time rolled on.
Friday night, Hall & Oates wisely stripped away such annoyances, performing the first two-thirds of their show Unplugged-style—seated on stools with acoustic guitars in front of their six-piece band—before finishing up with some straight-ahead (standing) pop-rock, all of it fairly light on synthesizer.
They didn’t do “Out of Touch,” sadly, but they also didn’t subject us to the grating “M-E-T-H-O-D-O-F-L-O-V-E” spelling lesson of “Method of Modern Love,” so the setlist was more or less a wash. “Sara Smile” and “She’s Gone” were the obvious highlights, mostly because those tunes flat-out rule. And it was sort of funny to see hipster kids push into the reserved seats up front to belt out the lyrics to “Rich Girl” and “Private Eyes.” Sort of.
And yeah, turns out Oates does sing the “I can’t go for that”s and Hall takes the “No can do”s. The world’s been turned upside down.