I'm sure that quite a few of you out there (myself included) will conclude about the career Daryl Hall and John Oates that they released a few really catchy pop songs in the '80s and that's about it. But their career isn't like the usual '80s acts that released a good song, toured and lived off the royalties of that hit single for a few years until the money ran out, and now they wound up putting up new billboard signs for a living. The Hall ran into Oates back in 1967 when the two were both attending Temple University, and had released a half dozen albums before 1980 even was a forethought, and were a touring band as well, opening for Harry Chapin (of "Cat's in The Cradle" fame) in the famed Los Angeles club the Troubador in 1973. 35 years later, the duo returned to the club and performed for a small group, doing the hits and some other material. The setlist is:
"Everything Your Heart Desires"
"When the Morning Comes"
"Say It Isn't So"
"Had I Known You Better Then"
"One On One"
"Out Of Touch"
"I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)"
"Kiss On My List"
"You Make My Dreams"
Before I get into the performance, I want to mention that Hall and Oates claimed that, several times on the disc anyway that they were the highest-selling pop rock duo in history. And at least according to some interweb sources, they've sold over 80 million albums. Any way you slice it, that's pretty damn impressive for the two guys that wrote a song called "Maneater," but I digress.
Performance-wise, I was quite impressed by what Hall and Oates were accomplishing in this intimate venue. Many other bands who achieved similar success in a bygone era would trot out their hits at the drop of a hat and set off an Independence Day-like set of pyrotechnics to remind you of it. Hall and Oates was making records before and after "Private Eyes" came out, so they are very comfortable in their skin and appear to be more interested in putting on a good concert first, rather than dealing with doing a good show. And what's a good concert when your ages are 62 and 59, respectively? Much of the show is focused on the two on acoustic guitars, with percussionists that keep things slow and laid back. Rather than being "Hall and Oates and the Hits," it's "A Night with Hall and Oates," and it's a smart move.
Moreover, because they've been playing for so long together, the songs sound pretty good in a slightly different form. Oates comes out and handles vocals for a second on a song and sounds like a poor man's Elvis Costello, and that ain't a bad thing. In fact, the concert itself is much better than I was expecting. The only thing that prevents me from flat out gushing over it is the pace makes the length a little too demanding, but otherwise winds up being a not so bad nostalgia trip.
In 1.78:1 widescreen using the VC-1 codec, Hall and Oates looks good in high definition. Oates doesn't look like Gary Dell 'Abate so much anymore and Hall is the one with the facial hair now, sporting a thin moustache and beard that makes him look a little bit Nordic. Blacks are solid through the presentation at there's a decent amount of detail throughout the two-hour concert. There's not a lot of depth to be gained from the backgrounds and the image suffers from a little more softness than I would have liked (or expected) to see from something shot in May 2008. But it's still solid.
There's a two-channel Dolby stereo mix to go along with the TrueHD 5.1 surround sound option the performance sports, but it seems a little bit flat. As I said earlier, it's a softer performance so there's no real opportunity for the subwoofer to pick up any work here, and the soundtrack does have its moments where the crowd noise in the rear speakers is clever and well-placed, but those moments aren't prevalent enough, and there wasn't the feeling of immersion that I expect from a musical performance. Don't get me wrong, the clarity of the music was nice, but there weren't any "wow" moments that made you marvel at the soundtrack.
Separate interviews with Hall (6:41) and Oates (5:50) are the only supplements on the disc, and they each share their thoughts on their first concert at the Troubador, their musical influences and working with the other. It's pretty quick and forgettable stuff.
Several epiphanies came for me during this performance from Hall and Oates. Number one, they look damn good for their ages, number two, they've sold a canyon-sized bunch of albums, and number three, they feel appreciative of the success, but it's never gotten in the way of their desire to make and perform music. As a child of the '80s I thought I'd dread this, to be honest, but it wasn't entirely unpleasant. It's definitely worth a rental at the very least, and fans of the duo who have Blu-ray players should grab this for their collection.