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Review: Hall & Oates at Allen Event Center

Posted 11:42pm on Monday, Sep. 10, 2012

In a way, it was fitting Hall & Oates performed amid strip-mall suburbia Monday night.

After all, it's where the vast majority of those who first mainlined hits like Kiss on My List or I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) in the '70s and '80s now reside, with jobs, significant others, mortgages and children. For 90 minutes on Monday, however, the Allen Event Center, a multi-purpose arena that holds about 6,200 bodies, was animated by pure nostalgia, alive with sounds of ecstatic sing-alongs and vociferous standing ovations for Daryl Hall and John Oates (himself just a few months removed from performing the Live Oak's inaugural concert).

The musicians reflected the love right back at the audience: "We haven't been to this part of the world in a while," Hall observed early on. "It's really nice to be back here." The pair, in the midst of their "Do What You Want, Be Who You Are" tour, which takes its title from the 2009 four-disc retrospective of the same name, packed plenty of hits into its set. And while some tracks, like Rich Girl and Sara Smile, were presented in familiar form, a few staples, such as opener Maneater or I Can't Go For That (No Can Do), were bent into interesting new shapes.

The approach was reminiscent of what Sting attempted on the Police's reunion tour five years ago -- take songs the band is sick to death of performing and spin them in fresh directions, like rearranging a jazz standard. If the crowd was at all bothered by the few creative detours, it wasn't apparent.

The sextet backing Hall & Oates (each in shockingly strong voice) was air-tight, with special accolades due guitarist Paul Pesco and saxophonist Charles DeChant, whose tasteful contributions elevated the evening beyond a rote trip down memory lane. It became apparent, over the course of the show, just how far ahead of the curve Hall & Oates was. Everyone from Bon Iver to Maroon 5 to Flight of the Conchords cribs a little (or a lot) from these guys, whose blue-eyed soul (or soft rock, or yacht-pop, or whatever you want to call it) sounds none the worse for having been such an enduring source of inspiration.

Sexy saxophone, gossamer falsettos and sleek, percussive rhythms abounded, rendering Hall & Oates as comforting as a velour tracksuit. The music and the men who made it have held up across the decades, ensuring the fond memories weren't tainted Monday night. For a time, anyway, those bound by mundane responsibilities were able to slip free and feel a little carefree breeze again, buoyed by a soundtrack that's as stylish as ever.

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