While many pop acts from the 80’s are happy to be touring the casino and fair circuit, Hall and Oates are one of the few groups that’s regained the ability to fill a medium to full-size venue and they definitely packed the house at a recent show at the Concord Pavilion.
The duo have known each other since the late 60’s, when they each led their own Philadelphia soul band. After starting to collaborate together seriously in 1970, they had their first top ten hit, “Sara Smile,” in 1976. Forty years later,they have a slew of instantly recognizable hits and Hall has achieved a new level of fame with his musician friendly “Live at Daryl’s House” television program. While some fans at the Bay Area show may not have seen Daryl’s TV show, they certainly knew all the hits.
The outdoor venue turned into a big happy singalong for most of the 90 minute set that opened with “Maneater” and closed with a medley that included “Kiss on my list” and “Private Eyes.”
The pair look and sound sharp these days. Hall bounced between playing the guitar and keyboard while Oates stuck with a guitar all night. Their harmonies were dead-on, but mic problems seemed to occur for Daryl when he played the guitar. It was difficult to hear the onstage banter between the duo at times, but as Hall moved to the keyboard, the issue was resolved.
Besides the duo, the other longtime member of the band who has remained performing with the group is Charles DeChant (saxophone, flute). DeChant was an imposing figure with his Gandalf-length white hair and shiny suit. Starting with “Maneater” his playing was a reminder that many of the group’s hits are punctuated by simmering sax solos which was vital to many radio hits in the 80’s.
Opening the show were a pair of soul and funk groups that are on the verge of exploding into the mainstream. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings began the night with a scathing set of Brooklyn funk; a 9-piece band that chugged along like a freight train. Jones, the gospel-influenced singer with the golden pipes was in great form, despite an ongoing battle with her second go-round with pancreatic cancer. She spoke about it openly to the crowd and dedicated the song “Get Up Get Out” to her fight with the disease. She closed the set with another sensational number “100 days, 100 night,” in which the band drummed up tension and drama with a couple of stop and go tempo and rhythm shifts.
The second act Trombone Shorty and Orleans Ave. had just returned from a club show in Sacramento the night before where they literally had every corner of the room swaying, dancing and perspiring like crazy. The early crowd at Concord wasn’t much for getting up out of their seats, but toes could be seen tapping all around as the New Orleans group blasted through a set heavy with trombone, sax and trumpet propelled funk, jazz and rock. They sampled a little bit of “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega on one song and had a full-on second line jam the next. They seemed in extremely good spirits as earlier that day it had been announced that they’d be touring with the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the spring, and it was heard that the band performed “Give it away” the night before in Sacramento.
Both openers were solid choices for Hall and Oates to bring out on the road. Hall has been given credit for breaking many acts on his popular tv show including Allen Stone and Fitz and the Tantrums. Songs “Rich Girl,” “Out of Touch” and “I can’t go for that” were performed enthusiastically, the crowd loved it and happily sang along to each and every one of the hits on this warm California evening.
Edit Leah Storkson