I’ve been rather absent from Toronto’s live music scene in the last few months. It’s unfortunate when life gets in the way of my regular live music fixes, however, like any good concert addict, when my phone rang unexpectedly and a friend offered me a ticket to see Hall and Oates in one hour, I dropped everything and rushed out the door. Traffic crawled but eventually I got to the waterfront. As the sun slowly dropped lower and lower in the sky, I followed the crowds trusting they would guide me to the entrance of the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre. I could not imagine a better venue on a warm (but not humid) summer evening. It always excites me to go to new venues, especially an outdoor amphitheatre which pretty much guarantees excellent acoustics. Seeing a band like Hall and Oates is particularly fun because the crowd is guaranteed to be an eclectic mix. Last night did not disappoint: Coachella hipsters, 30 somethings and retirees were all out in their Thursday night concert going finest, buzzing with excitement to see Hall & Oates. You can’t help but smile to see all ages and genders freestyle dancing, singing, laughing and being absorbed by the joy of music. I managed to find a perfect spot on the grassy hill overlooking the crowd and stage while safely avoiding those sitting in lawn chairs or standing before the show has even started. From where I sat I also could see the CN Tower as well as the BMO field where Toronto’s Argos were playing their home opener. This city always seems to buzz with activity and felt especially alive on this summer night.
Hall & Oates rocked the crowd by opening with fan favourites. I noticed John Oates still looks much like he did in their 80s music videos but Daryl Hall is now looking like a seasoned rock and roll veteran with longer whiter hair than his younger days. Their voices both still sound amazing, singing and playing as if the 80s were yesterday. One of my favourite parts of the show was the many many saxophone solos. Saxophones are rarely so prominently featured in songs in the last 20 years or so. It was all kinds of wonderful to rock out to so many beautiful saxophone solos. I am also now eager to check out Live from Daryl’s House, a show where Daryl Hall plays songs with all sorts of newer and older musicians. The most recent episode features Wyclef Jean.
Hall & Oates played a mix of everyone’s favourite hits: ‘Out of Touch’, ‘Maneater’, ‘Kiss on My List,’ ‘Private Eyes,’ ‘Sara Smile,’ ‘She’s Gone’ and ‘I Can’t Go for That’. They also played ‘You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling’ which reminds me of the awesomeness that is all things Top Gun.
And then there was the encore. One of my favourite games at concerts is to guess how many encore songs a band will play. Newer bands with an album or two in their repertoire typically play 2-3 encore songs. When I’ve gone to see more seasoned artists, such as Pearl Jam or David Grey, the encore was close to the length of the entire show. So given their large catalogue of songs, I was hopeful Hall & Oates would play a long encore. I was surprised they opted for 2 encores and kept them both rather short. They opened their first encore with ‘Rich Girl’ and closed that first encore with my personal favourite, ‘You Make My Dreams Come True.’ They then came back on to play 3 more songs before calling it a night. You could tell the fans were not ready for them to go yet but alas, Hall & Oates took a final group bow and were gone.
Following the crowds through the warm night, I journeyed home with ‘Rich Girl’ floating through my head. When I woke up today I felt as though I had not had enough and so, Hall & Oates has been on repeat as I do household chores today and write this review. If you’re reading this and Hall & Oates are touring near you, do not hesitate – go, go, go!