Monday, July 4, 2011

Hall & Oates, July 4 at the Hollywood Bowl

I would be lying if I said that I didn’t completely want to see Hall & Oates out of some amount of irony.  No one can argue that they’re not the epitome of ‘80s soft-rock and the stuff that your parents listened to.  Though they’ve done quite well being both, enough to play three nights at the Hollywood Bowl after all these years.  I got some best-ofs by them a while before the show to get ready and was shocked by how much I connected to the music, since it was so much of what I listened to when I was little (even had one of their later albums -- on cassette -- in high school and listened to it as much as anything else) but also because there really is some kind of depth to a lot of the tunes.  I never really thought of them as more than a pop act but they actually had roots in some sort of soul music, something I didn’t realize until I actually heard more, real soul music later in my life.  We didn’t have plans for July 4th, a holiday I usually skip over, but I felt the need to see Hall & Oates at some point in my life.  And the Hollywood Bowl had a deal that if you got tickets for five shows, you would only have to pay services charges for one and you would get the tickets before they officially went on sale, which also meant better seats, and since there were other shows we wanted to see at the Bowl, this became part of that deal.  (Another was Eddie Izzard on July 20, which was a comedy show and not strictly a concert so I don’t have it included here in this blog.  But it was a great, perhaps legendary, performance.)  We were just coming back from being Palm Springs for the weekend so we didn’t have a lot of time to get everything together for the show but we got our dinner and wine and that was all we needed.  Really, if a venue lets you take in food and alcohol, you absolutely should take advantage.  The show started off with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra playing some patriotic tunes, and that was fine as a warm-up, but I was there for Hall & Oates.  Then the fireworks, essential for a July 4th show, and they were predictably breath-taking, then more music from the orchestra.  Really, at one point you’d think it was their show.  Finally Hall & Oates took the stage and they moved through a set they’ve surely played a thousand times or more before.  Fair enough, they’ve been doing this for a while and it’s not like I’d seen it before.  Hall was either bored with the set or he’d done his own celebrating before the show because he often seemed to be moving at a different speed than the rest of the band, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, usually pretty detached, like he didn’t completely want to be there but he was doing it anyway, and he knew that everyone there would accept whatever state he was in as long as they played the hits.  And every song was a hit from their hey-day, save for one obscurity that you could allow them as an indulgence and maybe a gift for the die-hards fans.  If you had enough to drink, which surely a number of the attendees had, and as long as you were rocking out to songs you’ve been hearing for more than 30 years, you probably wouldn’t even notice a song you didn't know or how Hall was playing.  As it was, it seemed like an abbreviated concert, that even with the orchestra playing they had to be done before it got late, which felt a bit like a cheat.  I doubt that Mssrs. Hall and Oates would argue if they were told they couldn’t play their full set, since that meant they could be done with it earlier, and who is going to argue against patriotic music on the 4th of July?  But I was there to see Hall & Oates and I’m not sure I got enough for my satisfaction.  A band like that could play for hours with just the hits, and less than that seems just not enough.  They probably picked their biggest hits to fit in to the time they had but they still left a lot on the table.  They probably didn't care what songs they played since it was just another night on the job so might as well play the most popular stuff then be done with it, until they had to play again.  As it was, overall it was a good show, and with food and drink and my lady, I can’t remember when I’ve had a better July 4th.