Hall & Oates + Longfellow @ The Symphony Hall, Birmingham UK – 22nd July 2014

With huge hits, these guys permeated the radio during the 80s and took over MTV. We know all the words, we sang all the songs. So as a blast from the past we have the luxury of spending a beautiful summers eve in the delectable Symphony Hall, with guys who have the acclaimed status of being the number one selling duo in history* (*RIAA) – we’ve here fora bit of Hall & Oates.

With a career spamming over forty years, Daryl Hall and John Oates signed to their first label in the early 70’s releasing ‘Abandoned Luncheonette’ in ’73. A top ten hit beckoned with the soulful classic  ‘She’s Gone’, which has been covered by multiple artists since. A different label spawned a series of multi-platinum albums and a succession of number one hits including ‘Rich Girl’, ‘Kiss on My List’, ‘Private Eyes’, ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do), ‘Maneater’ and ‘Out of Touch.’ And that excludes a long list of top ten singles. Hall also wrote ‘Everytime You Go Away’ – noticeably a number 1 hit in the UK for Paul Young in ’85. In the same year they were part of Live Aid – singing on US single ‘We Are The World’ and closing the Live Aid show in Philadelphia.

And now in 2014, for the first time in a decade, Hall & Oates bring their show to the UK – tonight’s Symphony Hall gig being the closing date of their UK tour. And it’s totally sold out.

These days Hall presents a multi-award winning monthly web series ‘Live From Daryl’s House’“It was a light bulb moment,” he says of the show’s genesis. “I’ve had this idea about just sitting on the porch or in my living room, playing music with my friends and putting it up on the Internet.” Indeed a LONG list of stars from Smokey Robinson to Fall Out Boy’’s Patrick Stump to new upstarts Neon Trees, pop in for a bit of nosh and a jamming sesh. In the US it’s syndicated by a TV channel – you’ll have to take to the interweb to view it here.  Hall has also gone all “George Clarke: Renovation Man”  and has renovated several 17th century properties both in London and the USA.. Oates meantime continues to play and record – recent solo album ‘Mississippi Mile’ gained critical acclaim, whilst he’s plugging new album ‘A Good Road To Follow’ . While their last ‘new’  recording as a duo may have been way back in 2003 with ‘Do It For Love’- they are clearly still best known in the UK for what we’ll see tonight- as the legends that are ‘Hall & Oates.’

So tonight starts off with youth – Longfellow are a bunch of lads from London of a genre nearer to Coldplay or Keane – who have the potential to be rising stars. Tonight’s audience are indeed 40+ something, but the young lads go down well. They are plotting an album due for release in 2015 – check out their website for more information.

So at 8.45pm the lights go down, the band take to the stage. And the bass starts up. And we’re encouraged to clap, we’re standing already as the sax is playing. Hall & Oates take to the stage and we’re off with “Ooooohhhh here we come….” it’s indeed ‘Maneater.’ We sing along to this classic – Hall & Oates are accompanied by sax player Charles De Chant, who’s been with them since ’76. Akin in white suite, he look’s like Mick Fleetwood’s older brother, but no matter, the sax tune is bang on and the song ends to huge applause.

Hall & Oates are engaging and chatty – between songs two white spotlights shine on each of them and at times the house lights comes up so they can clearly see the audience. Next up ‘Out of Touch’ – Hall still has the recognisable voice and the duo’s vocals are still beautifully harmonised. And we’re singing along: “You’re out of touch, I’m out of time, I’m out of my head, when you blow my mind.…”

Cheers and wolf whistles from the crowd – the guys feel complimented to receive such a response. “So far so good….” grins Hall. And we sing some more – as we’re into the dark ‘Family Man’ – “Leave me alone I’m a family man, and my bark is much worse than my bite…”

“Welcome to last show on UK tour…” says Oates, as he alludes to the dizzying height of the venue and his own diminutive statue… “I bet I look taller from up there. Next up a song from the 70s….” As they take us into the soul blues with ‘Back Together Again’ followed by “one for the gamblers amongst us” - ‘Las Vegas Turnaround.’

As Oates states, this song is one of those songs that always feels like the first time they’ve played it – it’s always fresh. And a huge classic indeed – ‘She’s Gone.’ Full of soul and blues – not bad for white boys, as they used to say; a song that rolls on and on… ‘Do What You Want, Be What You Are’ is a blues RnB ballad that rolls. Hall’s vocals dance as much as the sax does as it morphs into ‘I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’ – and we’re clapping; and they’re jamming; the sax player is now fluting; and we’re singing. I defy you not to…

And as the hits are performed  – “Com’on y’all sing it…” encourages Hall as he conducts us before the band jam on and we spy  fellow Gig Junkie amongst the crowd, one Mr Daron Billings getting his groove on and boogying on down baby!  Now the percussionist is in a vocal challenge with Hall. Before the song rolls on and we’re in a blues sax mellow chill zone…. he gets us clapping before carrying and taking it up a gear and we’re back in the funky tune…

The encore brings us ‘Rich Girl’ and ‘You Make My Dreams’, then a tiny break. Back on Hall alludes to his other activities while Oates quips that he has his own show about inflating tyres. He’s waiting for the call from the TV channels for syndication. Meanwhile he’s making music – which we, in the UK, can download. If you want hard copy – that’ll be a visit to the States.

And here we go ‘Kiss on My List’ which morphs into ‘Private Eye’ totally seemslessly. And we chant “Private eyes. Are watching you. Are watching your every move….” Clap. Clap- Clap. Repeat. And the set over, the band are grinning and bowing, Hall takes time to smack the hands of the punters at the front of the stage.

Well, well, well. I can’t say that Hall & Oates are my preferred genre of music if you like but in my teenage years they permeated the airwaves, took over MTV. It was their 80’s hits we sang – ‘Maneater’, ‘Family Man’ –  I knew all the words, and I too was bopping along with the best of them tonight. Given that they are both over mid-sixties (Hall’s been battling with Lyme’s disease for a few years too) they look great; they sound great and they were indeed a pleasure to see. I did indeed go for that (And I’m so glad I did).


Out of Touch
Say It Isn’t So
Family Man
Back Together Again
Las Vegas Turnaround
She’s Gone
Sara Smile
Do What You Want, Be What You Are
I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)

Encore I:
Rich Girl
You Make My Dreams

Encore II:
Kiss on My List
Private Eyes


Private Eyes [1981]
H20 [1982]
Big Bam Boom [1984]


Review for Gig Junkies.