LIVE REVIEW: Daryl Hall And John Oates at Public Hall For The Rock Hall’s Annual Spring Benefit (5.10.14)
Last Saturday, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held their 11th annual “It’s Only Rock and Roll” Spring Benefit, a sold out fundraiser for the museum’s nationally acclaimed educational programs. Each year, over 25,000 students and educators in Northeast Ohio utilize the Rock Hall’s “Rockin’ the Schools” program. An additional 25,000 students are reached in their “On The Road” distance learning program, which is in more than 40 states, as well as international locations like Canada, France, Australia, England, Guatemala, and Mexico. These free programs help students learn through the power of music, using songs and artists to explore politics, history, culture, and important issues in our society.
The night began with a fancy dinner and auction for wealthy Clevelanders (or, in my case, broke people with media passes). They placed bids on items like a Rolling Stoneinternship, ticket packages from the Browns, and signed guitars from Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, who were inducted this year for their work in Nirvana. Mayor Frank Jackson, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, and local news personalities like Lee Jordan and Wilma Smith all made appearances. The Plain Dealer reported that the event raised over $800,000. Oh, and there was a Krispy Kreme donut sundae station.
This year’s headliner was 2014 inductees, Daryl Hall and John Oates. The duo have been eligible since 1997, and have both made comments about not taking their induction too seriously. But, for those of us who grew up on their infectious Philadelphia blue-eyed soul, it’s a pretty big deal. Hall and Oates sometimes get pigeon-holed as a cheesy nostalgia act from the ’80s, which is completely inaccurate. Their music is timeless and has influenced a slew of younger artists. It’s nice to see them finally get the recognition that they deserve.
In front of a packed house at the historic Public Hall (which, by the way, should be used more often for shows), they played a 90 minute set, which included two encores. To the delight of the audience, they started off with their 1982 hit, “Maneater.” Daryl Hall, looking scruffy in a flannel shirt and sunglasses, was energetic, and his voice sounded terrific. My only small complaint with his live vocals is that that he occasionally veers off path, performing classic lines in a different flow. John Oates, dressed a bit classier, played it by the book. There was actually a moment during the show when Hall clearly deviated from the set list, which prompted Oates to note before the next song, “I’m gonna stick with the program.” Other than that, they seemed to be getting along well. While Hall obviously sang lead on most of the songs, Oates shined on tracks like “Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)” and “Alone Too Long.”
The crowd went nuts for jams like “Out Of Touch,” “You Make My Dreams,” “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” and “Rich Girl,” the latter of which seemed ironic, due to the large amount of rich folks who were seated at tables on the main floor. Overall, the show had a great vibe to it, with people dancing and singing along to their favorite tunes, which is exactly how a Hall & Oates concert should be. It was an incredibly fun evening, and it seemed that the band (which includes their amazing longtime saxophonist, Charles “Mr. Casual” Dechant”) was definitely feeding off of the audience’s excitement. They never seemed to slow down, and ended on a high note with a vibrant rendition of “Private Eyes.” They may be in their sixties, but they play with more enthusiasm than a lot of young bands do. With their stellar performance last weekend, the duo definitely proved why they belong in the Rock Hall.