Hall & Oates wsg/ Todd Rundgren
(DTE Music Theatre, Clarkston, MI – 08/25/02)
In this day and age to have a so-called ‘opening act’ named Todd Rundgren is just about as good as it gets in this business. With America’s largest outdoor concert venue slowly still filling up, the late evening sun already at a level where sunglasses for the infamous musician are now a necessity, Rundgren casually walks out to the gracious applause of the already seated.
To believe that Rundgren is nothing more than a gifted pop artist with such hits as the Carole King pastiche "I Saw the Light," the ballads "Hello, It's Me" and "Can We Still Be Friends," and the goofy novelty "Bang on the Drum All Day," well, you couldn’t be more wrong. On one level, that perception is true since he is undoubtedly a gifted pop songwriter, but at his core Rundgren is a rock & roll maverick of the highest level. The producer of such diverse acts as Badfinger, Meat Loaf, Grand Funk Railroad, XTC and even his headliners, Hall & Oates methodically controls his show tonight, never letting it off the leash for sure, but never allowing its own driven borders to be unnecessarily broken.
As Hall & Oates finally take to the simply adorned aqua-blue lit stage, the huge ampitheatre is now near to capacity. The lawn is jam-packed, the seats are full and people are straining round corners just to get a glimpse of their musical heroes. Taking the stage in a very understated, yet quietly pensive manner, John Oates is quick to strap on his guitar, whilst Daryl Hall (in what looked to be a Member’s Only jacket that he never removed the entire night) is busy still waving and appreciating the huge crowd; some things never change ! But, without too much more hesitation, Hall picks up his guitar and suddenly we’re off and running with ’Adult Education,’ ‘Out Of Touch,’ and ‘Say It isn’t So.’
Mentioning early on that he ”... loves coming to Detroit” and that why ”... we play here all the time”, Hall is by far the chattier of the duo. But, Oates does get to perform a parody sketch of sorts when they get to introduce the next song in the set; ’Do It For Love’ which is currently the #1 AC airplay and #2 on Billboards AC singles chart ! Asking Hall if he knows where their new single is in the charts, Hall’s jovial reply of #1 is greeted with rapturous applause by the unsuspecting crowd. Without a shadow of a doubt, by the end of this song the audience had stood up and bayed their adoration at the guys for the first time that night ! ’She’s Gone’ comes next, but it’s very clear now that either Hall’s voice has seen better days or he’s under the weather. The high notes can’t be reached, the held pitches far from unscathed, which is just as well that Oates took the chance to perform and sing (yes, the little guy can sing too !) a track from his new solo debut, ’Color Of Love.’ This amazingly funky track completely rocked the house up off their seats and got their asses moving as the bass lines drove straight through them.
Hall introduces ’One On One’ as their ”anti-road song”, but once again it’s painfully obvious to all concerned that his once delicious vocal expertise has ungraciously begun to undignify itself. Notes remain un-hit, a verse is skipped over and replaced with la-la’s and Hall himself looks like an embarrassed deer in headlights ! Once the extended song has passed we move into Hall’s solo spotlight with the original version of one of his songs made famous by Paul Young, ’Everytime You Go Away.’ Yet another extended version is brought forth this time allowing for the travelling guitarist Jeff Cantania and ever-wonderful saxophonist Charles DeChant to have their quite excellent virtuoso moments in the spotlight. The song tracks through the rock blues tune ’Free, Free, Free’ before coming back around for Hall to end it accordingly.
Hall takes to the keyboards for the intro to ’Sara Smile,’ but it’s yet another pitch mountain that remains unobtainable for him, but soon after Hall remarks that ”You’re lucky if you can ever make Sara smile, but sometimes you’re just not that lucky and you have to sit down and tell yourself, ’I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’ ! Hall goes back to the keyboards, Oates smiles like a little cherub, Cantania turns the middle of the song into his very own happy hour, and DeChant virtually brings the house down with his supreme artistry. A rousing rendition of ’Maneater’ brings the show to its first climax with all the musicians on stage prowling theatrically, arms (or instruments) swinging toward the front of the stage, but it’s no more then a couple of minutes later before they’re all back in place for the first encore.
For the encore, Todd Rundgren takes to the stage with the duo and for the rest of the night the act becomes a trio. ’Wait For Me’ is the first encore song to spring forth and as Rundgren suddenly realizes that the Mardi Gras necklace that he has just taken and is now proudly wearing is actually designed as marijuana leaves, the whole band break into his hit, ’Can We Still Be Friends.’
Amazingly though, it’s when Rundgren begins to sing the opening to ’Rich Girl’ - which was a weird sight in the first place – that it suddenly struck me that if you closed your eyes he sounded just like Hall did twenty years ago ! As incredible as that sounds, for the rest of his lyrical night, Rundgren was easily what Hall vocally used to be. Another Rundgren classic came next in the form of ’I Saw The Light’ before the encore was rounded off in style with a splendid rendition of ’Kiss On My List.’
Coming back, and with the house lights still on from the last song, the guys wave and thank the audience profusely before getting down to business one final time for the album track, ’Hot Fun In The Summertime.’ Then, a final wave goodbye and the Hall & Oates musical bandwagon has finally come to an end for the night.
Reviewed By Russell A. Trunk
Simply click here to go to the brand new John Oates Interview in the magazine.
Simply click here to go to the new Daryl Hall & John Oates CD review AND the brand new John Oates solo CD review in the magazine.