Near the end of the main set, as Daryl Hall and John Oates sang “Back Together Again,” you could see them — Hall at the keys of a grand piano, Oates with his electric guitar — beaming heartily at each other.
The semi-forgotten late-’70s track wasn’t necessary to include in their hits-heavy show at the Hollywood Bowl on Friday. But it was clearly a joy for the duo, who are widely regarded as the greatest such partnership in rock history, to be together again.
And the fans’ smiles, as they danced and sang their hearts out all night in the packed Bowl, made it abundantly clear how happy they are that Hall & Oates are still out there singing the sweet Philly soul that put them on the map in the 1970s and the upbeat rock ‘n’ roll that made them massive in the 1980s.
The night began with “Maneater,” one of six No. 1 singles they performed on Friday. And, while the tempo is slow enough that Hall or Oates could probably outrun the huntress described in the lyrics, it’s a tremendously enjoyable sing-along at any speed.
“Out Of Touch” followed, with the duo filling their long-established roles on stage. Hall sings most of the lead vocals and adds guitar and keyboards, Oates plays guitar and handles the backing and harmony vocals.
And, despite occasionally shifting a vocal line to a more comfortable range, they sounded great for the most part. “Method Of Modern Love,” with its soulful syncopated choruses, finished up with Hall improvising a kind of scat-and-growl outro, while their cover of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ” gave Oates a nice vocal spotlight.
The six guys in the band also got plenty of opportunities to shine in the set. Saxophone player Charles DeChant, who has been with the duo since 1976, was terrific on songs such as “Say It Isn’t So.”
“I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” which closed out the main set, got an extended finish that saw percussionist Porter Carroll Jr. on vocals and DeChant and guitarist Shane Theriot trading riffs back and forth to the end.
The midsection of the show saw Hall & Oates go back to their roots — “The early, early days, when we were Philadelphia boys,” Hall said — with the love songs of “She’s Gone,” and “Sara Smile,” both of which had the fans on their feet and swaying to the soulful sounds.
A pair of deeper cuts, the jazzy “Is It A Star” and the aforementioned “Back Together Again,” two of the only three songs in the set that didn’t crack the Top 10, gave the hardcore fans something special.
The four-song encore, opening with a peppy “Rich Girl,” then “Kiss On My List” straight into “Private Eyes,” delivered some of the best energy of the night, a faster pace that might have been good earlier in the set, too.
But no one was complaining, unless it was that after “You Make My Dreams” finished things up, there wasn’t time for just one or two more songs. The Bowl was the duo’s final night of the first leg of its pandemic postponed tour, but Hall & Oates will be back in Southern California at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio on Nov. 6.
Squeeze, the British new wave band led by singer-songwriters Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, opened the night with a hour-long set which started so early some of us missed the first half thanks to the typical Friday night traffic.
What we did catch — “Tempted,” “Annie Get Your Gun,” “If I Didn’t Love You,” among the numbers — left us wishing that “Black Coffee In Bed” wasn’t really the band’s final song.
Image Credit: Getty