Daryl Hall and John Oates are the top-selling duo in pop history with 40 years of making records and hit songs. Now there are a couple of generations of music fans who either grew up with the band’s music or grew up listening to their catalog through parents, radio and/or pop culture osmosis.
The pair of songwriting hall of famers has not released an all-new recording since 2003’s Do It For Love. But the four decades that have passed since the singing/songwriting sexagenarians’ debut album Whole Oats was a good reason to reunite on Friday at the Akron Civic Theatre, run through their hits and “shake the money tree” as one satisfied fan remarked after the show.
Hall & Oates and their air-tight, veteran sextet casually entered the stage at 8:05 p.m. and finished the second and final encore, 14 songs and almost exactly 90 minutes later, a seemingly short set for a band with their considerable history and track record of hits.
But it was a packed hour and a half, touching on all the major eras of the band, from the bouncy opener 1980s pop hit Out of Touch back to the early 1970s soul-ballad twofer of She’s Gone and Sara Smile, both of which inspired the crowd to sing along and garnered standing ovations.
Add in some convivial stage banter, a few drawn-out bluesy intros and extended jams such as a lengthy I Can’t Go For That featuring original H&O saxophonist and fan favorite Charlie DeChant and a friendly guitar duel between longtime guitarist Paul Pesco and Hall.
Oates made use of his two-song moment in the frontman spotlight, singing lead and playing melodic guitar solos for the top 30 hit How Does It Feel To Be Back and the deep cut Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song).
Oates, whom Hall has long maintained is underrated as a guitarist, provided several fine solos throughout the evening including a classic call and response with DeChant on the pony-tailed saxman’s familiar solo from the 1980s hit Maneater.
At 66, Hall’s Philly soul-bred tenor has lost some power at the top end, particularly his falsetto. There were several instances in the set, such as on the R&B tinged Rich Girl where Hall took the safe low octave rather than reach for the high notes of the decades-old recordings.
But he sings with plenty of emotion, and he and Oates harmonizing on the verses of She’s Gone was spot on and had couples slow dancing at their seats.
The Civic show was the band’s first of 2013 following a break for the holidays, and Hall, wearing a black leather jacket and sunglasses, noted how long it had been since the duo was in Akron.
“What, around 1974? We’re not sure, those were hazy times,” Hall joked.
Much of the sold-out crowd was comprised of fans who — depending on how hazy those times were for them — remembered the group’s 1970s and 1980s commercial heyday. And, there was also a healthy smattering of couples and small crews of friends under 30.
Throughout the show, the excited crowd bobbed their heads, mouthed the lyrics and gave standing ovations to their favorite tunes.
The show ended with the crowd singing and clapping along with Private Eyes and despite playing all six of their No. 1 singles, most fans could surely name several more tunes they would have liked to hear (You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling, One On One and Method of Modern Love).
Nevertheless, as the crowd exited the Civic, many still singing bits of their favorite tunes, most seemed satiated.
Malcom X. Abram can be reached at 330-996-3758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.