Hall & Oates Magically in Return to Jones Beach, NY 7-15-15

A good song is a good song, no matter what genre it may fall under. From the Philadelphia, PA area, two young musicians by the name of Daryl Hall and John Oates came together nearly five decades ago to collaborate on some music just for fun. Little did they know, they were on the road to creating one of the most dynamic songwriting partnerships in Rock-n-Roll history. After signing with Atlantic Records they would release their debut album in 1972, Whole Oates, under the now world renowned name Hall & Oates. Honing their skills and unifying their partnership, 1973 saw the release of Abandoned Luncheonette, marking their first platinum record, and it would certainly not be their last such monument. Marrying styles ranging from Rock to Pop to Soul and R & B, the two musicians became pioneers in creating their own unique sound that would penetrate into the Pop Rock world immensely through the late ’70s and explode in the ’80s. In fact, the two would go on to become the most successful duo in Rock-n-Roll history, compiling an astounding thirty-four hits in the Billboard Hot 100, seven platinum records, and six gold records. Members of the Songwriters Hall of Fame since 2003, Hall & Oates were finally, and rightfully, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

Now in 2015 the dynamic pair continue to perform live while juggling other projects including Hall’s successful series Live from Daryl’s House, and Oates’ recently launched series Good Road to Follow, named after his 2013 solo record. Still finding new accomplishments to strive for, the two stars are spending the Summer together touring around North America through August 30th, and on Wednesday July 15th came out to Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY. No stranger to the seasonal concert spot, Hall & Oates history at the bay side open air amphitheater extends decades, with many memorable performances running deep. Last visiting in 2011 with support from Chris Isaak, their latest venture to the venue would be solo, and they would make good use of the time as the seats filled in anticipation for the performance.

With it being an extra windy night, gusts came from the ocean across the highway as the lights went down and the band took the stage. With a lineup of outstanding musicians including guitarist Shane Theriot, drummer Brian Dunne, percussionist Porter Carroll Jr, saxophonist Charlie DeChant, keyboardist Eilot Lewis, as well as bassist Klyde Jones in place, both Hall and Oates smiled at the audience and lifted off into “Maneater.” Having everyone on their feet and dancing they went into 1984’s “Out of Touch,” as their sound filled the air, rich with texture and feeling. Keeping the hits coming, 1981’s “Did It in a Minute” came before an extended edition of “Say It Isn’t So” where Hall playfully danced around vocal notes in the opening before lifting off into song. Featuring exceptional backing vocals and tight instrumentation, the live version kept a cool, relaxed vibe as the set continued. As the wind picked up Oates opted to put on a baseball cap resulting in Hall asking if he should as well, and his partner jokingly said “You are Daryl Hall, you can do what you want.” Showing their friendship is still as strong as ever after all these years with such casual exchanges, they flowed through their next song which was a lifting rendition of The Righteous Brothers’ classic, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.” Dueling more vocals the song fit perfectly amidst their performance that still had plenty more treats in store.

Taking the audience back to where it all began for Hall & Oates in the ’70s, they went into Oates-penned tracks “Back Together Again” and “Las Vegas Turnaround” where the sounds of Soul and Funk Rock joined together in spectacular fashion. Colorful tracks filled with an array of vocal stylings, everyone was in a groove and enjoying the deeper cuts from the band’s catalog.  Asking their audience if they could keep the time machine back in the ’70s they went into the heavy-hearted “She’s Gone” before the beautiful love ballad “Sara Smile.” Sincere in their delivery Hall stated, “It still feels like the first time every time” when performing the aforementioned tracks. Tapping into 1976’s Bigger Than Both of Us archives they jammed out “Do What You Want, Be What You Are” where Oates and DeChant exchanged notes back and forth on saxophone and guitar, as the set began to feel more like a jam session between friends than a concert. Certainly a vibe any professional band would love to achieve when performing, it worked magically for Hall &  Oates as the tracks each had their own distinctive quality, with subtle alterations from their studio recordings. Seguing seamlessly into “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” the jam reached a new level as Hall jived through vocal notes with ease and the music was plush and lively to close out the set.

Cheering loudly for more, the audience knew there was still plenty more Hall & Oates had to cover, after all this is a group that has more hits than one could count. With that said, the duo re-entered the stage smiling brightly as they went into the hip “Rich Girl” and followed with “You Make My Dreams.” Again, having everyone on their feet and dancing in the aisles, the two song encore would have been enough to quench the desires of their fans, but Hall & Oates had more to offer. Briefly exiting for a second time, minutes later the entire band returned for the epic and final encore which commenced with “Kiss on My List” and the rocking fan-favorite “Private Eyes.” As everyone sang along with the unmistakable chorus of the latter tune, Hall & Oates wrapped up what was nothing less than a flawless fifteen songs.

There is no doubt anyone looking to attend a Hall & Oates concert may have extremely high expectations judging by the amount of number one hits this group has produced. These songs, while Pop, are so much more than that, being quite varied from one another while possessing impassioned lyrics and a mix of sounds few bands have accomplished so well commercially. With that said, Hall & Oates bring the life rightfully deserved to each of their songs while on stage. While some of the live versions may be slightly different from what one may recall from the radio or putting on an LP, that is what makes the group’s concerts so special. It would be simply dull if after all these years the two went out there and recited the tracks verbatim from their studio recordings. Keeping things fresh while still captivating their audience, Hall & Oates improvise in an extraordinary way that leaves everyone wondering where the music will go next. Whether one is a big fan of the endless hits or treasure chest of their other songs, seeing Hall & Oates live is an experience that never gets old.

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