Sunday, August 25, 2002

Hall and Oates best in the past

By Chris Varias
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The place to be Saturday night for the finest in 1970s soul was Taste of Blue Ash listening to Al Green. The place to be for soul's poppy, watered-down, blue-eyed equivalent was Riverbend listening to Hall and Oates.

        The platinum-selling duo pleased the crowd with a set stringing together several “soulful” hits — “Maneater,” “Rich Girl,” “Sara Smile,” “Kiss on My List,” “She's Gone,” and many more. It was the embodiment of '70s and '80s AM hit-radio, or at least it was like another re-run of Hall and Oates' Behind the Music episode.

        Don't think such nostalgic notoriety isn't fueling their 2002 go-around. In March the pair released a best-of album titled VH1: Behind The Music, The Daryl Hall and John Oates Collection.

        Amid the hit tracks on the record is “Do It for Love,” a new song they played Saturday. “Do It for Love” will also be included on an upcoming release of all-new material, Mr. Hall told the crowd. Why bother? Be happy being a former hit-maker, Mr. Hall. You too, Mr. Oates. This mid-tempo song will get you nowhere. It's not memorable, let alone a return ticket to '80s greatness.

        Another new song they played, “Color Of Love,” came from Phunk Shui, a solo album Mr. Oates released Aug. 20. The song, the only one on which Mr. Oates sang lead all night, was more funky than poppy, perhaps indicating Mr. Oates knows shooting for a hit is futile.

        And then there was a tune new to the Hall and Oates songbook but not to the crowd. “Every Time You Go Away” was a hit for Paul Young, but Mr. Hall wrote it, and its performance was a highlight.

        Todd Rundgren opened, using Hall and Oates' backup band for his own. The '70s star's 45-minute set was sort of a comedy of errors with him breaking a guitar string, swallowing a bug (“Was this place built on a swamp?” he asked the crowd), and hitting himself in the forehead with his microphone.

        He recovered to return for Hall and Oates' encore, which included his own songs “I Saw the Light” and “Can We Still Be Friends?” as well as Sly and the Family Stone's “Hot Fun in the Summertime.”


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- Hall and Oates best in the past