Saturday, May 24, 2008

Hall & Oates live at the Troubadour, 5/23/08

After sitting through the drudge that was 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Golden Skull', I felt let down by one of my favorite 80s icons. Fortunately, the very next night, the 80s were proud and potent at the Troubadour, where I saw the triumphant return of Daryl Hall and John Oates, playing the venerable club for the first time in over 30 years.

I've been a Hall & Oates fan since the first time I heard 'Sara Smile' at a high school party. I've been seeing them live in concert since 1977. I've seen them in concert more than any other artist, by far. H&O were the first band that I'd ever seen who rearranged their songs for a live presentation, giving me a fuller experience of their music.

Now, over 30 years later, Hall is 62 years old and still a full-headed blond, while Oates, 63 and still fit, anchors the show. What made the show extra special were two things: an opportunity to hear rarely or never before performances of songs from their earliest albums, in addition to all of the hits; and hearing Daryl Hall's voice in spectacular shape. I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl last summer and Hall sounded better than I had heard in twenty years. He was even better at the Troubadour. He hit high notes he hadn't hit confidently in a long time and his interpretative skills gave classic hits new life.

H&O have always had an outstanding band, and this time was no exception. Former bassist T-Bone Wolk handles lead guitar now and keeps the band on its toes. They played almost everything you'd want to hear, from She's Gone to I Can't Go For That. Playing for over two hours with two encores, there were still dozens of familiar songs that they never got to.

The crowd was a mix of middle-aged fans (like myself) and a lot of kids in their early twenties, who seemed to know the words to all of the songs. Daryl Hall looked like he was having the absolute time of his life onstage and the audience clearly shared his enthusiasm. Walking back to my car, the bad taste of 'Indy' was replaced with the sweet realization that sometimes you can go home again. Hall & Oates were as good in 2008 as they were in 1978, and I took great comfort in that.

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