Hall and Oates at Arena Theatre, 5/25/2013

Hall and Oates Arena Theatre May 25, 2013

In one of the many throwback moments Saturday night at the Arena Theatre, a woman, who had clearly forgotten what year it was and what band she was watching, rushed the stage while Hall and Oates were transitioning between their final two songs, '80s hits "Kiss On My List" and "Private Eyes." Her target: a genuinely shocked John Oates. The mustachioed second half of the classic pop duo (yes, the 'stache is back) shrugged off the bear hug, but the band howled clearly getting a kick out of their bandleader's rock-star turn.

Unfortunately, that may have represented the most exciting point in an otherwise less than energetic performance from the classic pop duo during their 80-minute set. In one of the more unintentionally revealing exchanges onstage, Daryl Hall introduced "She's Gone" saying, "I never like to say an album is my favorite, but this one is way up there, like one of two, maybe one of one."

Oates, perplexed, responded, "We've done like 30 albums and we only had two good ones?"

Hall, who if he put on a bathrobe and sipped a White Russian, could win a Big Lebowski lookalike contest as The Dude any day of the week, is still a gifted, throaty singer with serious soul chops, but he appeared too often to be going through the motions on Saturday night. The band has amassed an impressive five gold, four platinum and two multiplatinum albums to go with six No. 1 hits in their 40-plus-year career, but Hall seemed disinterested during their biggest hits of the '80s, and the entire band's energy waned as a result.

"We're going to play stuff tonight from all of our eras," Daryl Hall told the audience of middle-aged suburbanites. Of course, what he really meant was "both" given that Hall and Oates are defined by their '70s R&B-tinged soft-rock and '80s monster pop hits. And they did not disappoint the two-thirds-filled Arena Theatre, playing every No. 1 including "Rich Girl," "Maneater," and "Out of Touch." The crowd ate it up, dancing in the aisles for much of the show.

The duo was at its best during the '70s portion of the night, particularly "She's Gone" and "Sara Smile," which allowed the band to stretch out a bit and gave Hall the room he needed to inject the soul singing he obviously loves and still performs exceptionally well. The extended jam at the end of "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)" was the band at its most lively.

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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke