December 10, 2011 – It’s been five years since the release of the first and only Christmas effort from rock ‘n’ soulers Daryl Hall and John Oates. “Home for Christmas” was the title of that album. But for this duo, Atlantic City’s Borgata casino is pretty much home. “Oh man, we love this place,” Daryl said as he emerged on stage during the band’s nonchalant walk-out. In fact, Daryl loves the Borgata so much that he’s played three shows here in the past seven months. And the Borgata loves Daryl back; each show has sold out.
What keeps the fans coming back again and again to see this duo again and again? There are several possibilities. Daryl Hall’s hair. The thumping bass line and delightfully menacing lyrics of “Maneater”. Daryl Hall’s hair thumping along to the bass line of “Maneater”. Or perhaps they’re just waiting to see if John Oates will finally grow his moustache back.
But whatever the reason, H&O fans are always out in full force to see their favorite duo. At the Borgata this particular evening the room packed in slowly but surely for the very last show of the 2011 “Do What You Want, Be What You Are” tour. It’s Christmastime, it’s Atlantic City, you’ve got to go see Hall and Oates.
A roadie was strumming some notes, testing Daryl’s guitar. It started to sound a lot like “Maneater”, which got some in the crowd excited. Fifteen minutes past 8pm was when Oates and the full band finally walked out and waved to much cheering. Hall stepped out next and stole most of the attention. They start every show like this. A casual entrance, Daryl picks up his guitar, tests some notes, smiles at the crowd and gives the cue that it’s time to release the music on the masses.
There’s nothing particularly wrong with this type of entrance, but it is a bit anti-climactic. Why not build some anticipation and create some dramatic flare? Use Big Bam Boom’s first track, “Dance on Your Knees” as a gradual build getting louder and louder over the speakers until the song breaks down, then the lights suddenly come on to reveal Daryl at the microphone wailing on “Out of Touch”. But we digress.
At least Out of Touch was next on the set list. But there was no ‘Kiss’ on that list. No “Kiss on My List”, that is. That song along with “Private Eyes” were dropped from the set list in favor of a pair of crisp Christmas tunes, including a splendid rendition of “Children, Go Where I Send Thee”. This brought Hall back out from behind his keyboard for a rare guitar finish.
Some in the inner-most circle of Hall and Oates fandom have complained of repetition on this year’s tour. Yes, Daryl Hall has worn the same leather jacket over his “Live from Daryl’s House” t-shirt for almost every gig. And yes, the set list has been rather static with few exceptions. Repetition is consistency, however, and this band ought to win an award for consistency.
Hall has the hair of a lion and a voice that never seems to fail him. He could sing his way through a high school history book and make it sound like an emotional rollercoaster of unfulfilled angst.
With their fan base reaching a critical mass of both hipsters and boomers, both Hall and Oates should heading into 2012 with a smile.