Hall & Oates partied like it was 1975 on Friday night at Gexa Energy Pavilion.
The duo and their stellar band played hits from throughout their more than 40-year career, with not a dud in the bunch.
The show began with a countdown from 10, on a screen above and behind the stage. Standing fans, already riled up by hot and hotter sets from Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue and Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, joined in the countdown at 5.
Daryl Hall addressed the crowd, speaking over the yells, and got an even bigger cheer when he said “it’s the first night of the tour.” First nights can go off the rails; when they’re bad, they can be disastrous. There was no disaster here.
It’s not as if Hall & Oates didn’t get plenty of chances to mail it in.
From the opening notes of “Out of Touch” to the last strain of “Private Eyes,” the crowd picked up the lyrics as if they had learned them last week: with gusto, on pitch and eager to please the choirmaster.
Daryl Hall moved from guitar – with a strap that read Live From Daryl’s House, also available for sale at the booming business of their merchandise table – to keyboards with ease after they ran through songs from essential '80s albums H2O, Rock N Soul, and Private Eyes. You know, the ones you didn’t even know that you remembered all the words to: “Maneater,” “Did It In a Minute,” “Say It Isn’t So.” A righteous cover of “You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling” from 1980's Voices had the audience feeling some type of way as the singalong grew amplified.
But it was the middle of the show that showcased the voices and the musicianship to the fullest.
One could tell that this sweet reading of “Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)” was Oates’ jam. He stepped right into the microphone and was more animated than he had been all night.
And then, Hall introduced “She’s Gone” from 1973 album Abandoned Luncheonette. It sounded as if they recorded it yesterday.
“This song brought us into the world out of Philadelphia,” he said. One could argue that it brought the world to them.
But it was “Sara Smile,” the song of a million covers, that soared.
Every R&B singer on the planet has attempted this song, but the original is still the best. The first bars were greeted with a roar of appreciation of what was to come and then there was an almost reverential silence followed swiftly by the joyful noise of the crowd joining in.
The year of 1976 was very good to them. Next was “Do What You Want, Be What You Are.” That forceful and soulful song is one of the best examples of why the duo is revered by fans and performers of R&B. Hall had moved to keyboard by then and the band let loose, with self-congratulatory fist bumps all around.
By that time, though, some younger audience members were playing games on their phones and alcohol consumption had contributed to some exits because of excessive yawning. Bad for them: They missed a crowd-moving “I Can’t Go For That” and two (!) encores.
The band had lots of fun with “I Can’t Go For That,” turning it into a medley with bits and pieces from other songs thrown in. The band waved to the crowd and left the stage, only to run back out minutes later at the urging of the still-standing, still-clapping crowd.
Hall & Oates jumped right into a jam session featuring “Rich Girl” and “You Make My Dreams.”
But they weren't done.
“We wrote all of our songs about real things that happened to us,” Hall said when they came back out for the second encore. And the shared experiences of “Kiss on My List” and “Private Eyes” inspired dancing in the aisles and plenty of fingers pointed toward the stage in agreement.
Hall may have said “good night” three times. But the band sounded and looked as if they could have played another hour.