A review of the DVD release - Hall & Oates: Live at the Troubadour (2008)
Let me start by saying that I was encouraged to watch this new Hall & Oates concert DVD after I saw their Daily Show spoof of Hannity and Colmes recently.
Even though it was odd that they were introduced as “the best selling rock duo of all time,” a claim also made on their DVD…I thought “here’s a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously to redo the song “She’s Gone” to mock that Republican-obsessed TV program.
But unless you like to hear jaunty, high-energy 80s pop tunes dirged out into lullabies, this DVD may not for you.
Hell, we did aerobics to Hall & Oates in the 80s, their songs had so much kick. The arrangements and performances on this DVD seemed very tired. And yet…their vocals still sound great, which makes the show seem all the more disappointing and the “best selling” accolade all the more deflated.
Daryl’s face looks very pinched and his style of squinting when he sings doesn’t age so well. He looks like he’s had an allergic reaction to a cat. Keep in mind he did have an attack of Lymes disease in 2005, which may explain his look and low energy level.
I, myself, love older H&O tunes like “She’s Gone” and “Rich Girl” (my last favorite was “You Make My Dreams Come True”), while Coolia liked the later 80s tunes such as “Family Man,” “Maneater” and “Out of Touch.”
Their early album Abandoned Luncheonette was mentioned (from where “She’s Gone” came) during the show which made me wonder if this was the album they were promoting during their earlier Troubadour show they mention fondly. It’s hard to know because their between-song banter was sketchy and cryptic.
We love to make light of Oates as the lesser in the duo but his one solo of the show “Had I Known You Better” we all liked. Daryl did a solo song called “Cab Driver” and he spoke about a concert he did at his house: liveatdarylshouse.com.
But all in all, I got no sense of these performers’ personalities. They were like cardboard cut-outs of Hall & Oates.
Almost every song was drawn out to a tedious duration with insufferable scatting from Daryl and therefore, every song of this two hour show, from “You Make My Dreams Come True” to “Sara Smile” sounded exactly the same, which bored the hell out of us.
I enjoyed H&O when I saw them in concert at the Beacon Theater in NYC, probably close to 10 years ago. That show was electric and showcased their great pop melodies and many hits. As Nerdia said, this all-acoustic show was a bit of a snoozer. Typically, in a live show, the artists may do a brief acoustic interlude, which always makes for a nice change. But 2 hours of acousticness tends to just drone on and on.
The concert wasn't filmed with much visual flair, and there's no use of video or images other than shots of the band. So this adds to the sameness vibe. I was also distracted by the saxophone player who had creepy long hair and whose personality just grated on my nerves for some reason. It's not really rational but I found myself reacting negatively whenever they showed him - and they showed him a lot. On the other hand, some other band members got very little camera time at all.
Daryl still sounds great, but I found myself missing his proud mullet of the 80s. He has midwestern mom hair now. Oates was never a looker, and reminds me of Epstein from Welcome Back, Kotter, but he's very fit. He still doesn't have that much to do. Remember him in their 80s videos, doing cartwheels in the background, like as if to say, "notice me dammit!" As Nerdia mentioned, his solo tune is worth a download.
I still love hearing their hits, and I can imagine myself putting this DVD on for background as I blog or read. It's not really compelling enough to watch on its own, but it's ear-pleasing.