Despite being a massive Hall & Oates fan in the ’80s, I wasn’t going to go to their show here in Sydney. It’s been years since I heard anything new from them, and felt a bit over it. But a good friend of mine is a big fan and wanted to go and that made me reconsider. So last night he and I went down to Darling Harbour to see them.
We gave opening band Icehouse a miss. I’ve never been a big fan of them. I thought it best to leave them to the Aussie fans who adore them. My mate and I had a couple of beers and caught up instead.
We timed our arrival perfectly, getting into the Entertainment Centre and finding our seats just moments before the headline duo took the stage.
I’ll be honest: the first half of the show was pretty average. Darryl Hall’s voice took a few songs to warm up, and by doing a couple of big songs early – “Maneater” first, and “Out of Touch” third – I think they squandered a bit of impact. They played a couple of older songs that I’m sure the true fans loved but that I don’t care for (e.g., “Family Man”), and John Oates songs that – c’mon, let’s be fair – aren’t as compelling.
But either the drinks I’d had kicked in or they loosened up as they went (or maybe both) but things got better toward the end. The encores, especially, hit home and had many of us up and dancing. “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” was quite cool. “Private Eyes” had us clapping, too. The joy that the crowd felt in the last parts of the set was infectious, and really fun to be part of.
Those songs are truly great, and Darryl and John are a great writing and singing duo. The band was fine too. But Hall & Oates isn’t a good act for stadium venues like this: you lose a lot in that space and distance. They are, in essence, an R&B vocal duo, and our nostalgic love for them was probably all that got them over the pass line by the end.