Hall and Oates in the woods

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Daryl Hall and John Oates, Squeeze
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Hall
September 26, 2021

If you knew music in the ’70s and’ 80s, then you’ve heard of Hall & Oates. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hitmakers were almost ubiquitous around this time, making their way to notoriety amid the rise of the New Wave, punk, and metal. Daryl (Hall) and John (Oates) epitomized the height of the so-called “blue-eyed soul” era, though they would later decry the term itself.

For their part, Squeeze was widely praised in their native Britain (founders Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook were compared to Lennon & McCartney at the time), but never received such praise on this side of Atlantic. The band has been tagged as everything from post-punk to pop, making the pairing of the two on last night’s Woodlands show one of those odd house mate things you sometimes come across.

Whatever powers we had in mind to bring the two together at the Pavilion (in a show originally planned for 2020), it worked. Maybe it was the enjoyable evening, or maybe the happiness of the crowds returning to the live shows was reflected by the bands themselves.

Maybe everyone was high, I’m not ruling out anything.

Your first thought upon seeing the members of Squeeze take the stage in a variety of casual costumes may have been, “My, they look pretty dapper.” Your second may very well have been, “They’ve got enough people for a ska group.”

The band tore up what Tilbrook called a Supermarket sweep set of styles, consisting of most of the band’s best-known tracks – “Take Me I’m Yours”, “Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)”, a singalong version of “Tempted” (perhaps to hide the absence of Paul Carrack) – and some obscure selections. I’m not sure who thought of including “Please Be Upstanding”, the 2017 tribute to erectile dysfunction, but what the hell. If there was one complaint, it was that the mix was sadly muddy on the low end.

Hall & Oates took the stage and clearly had a good time. Hall told us it was “good to see you Houstonites” and remarked to Oates at one point that “it’s gonna be a good time”. Bullshit? Maybe, but he had a smile on his face the whole time and clearly heightened the mood. His vocal chops are sadly not where they were 40 years ago, but his enthusiasm was infectious.

Click to enlarge Still walking.  - HALLANDOATES.COM

, and Oates sang and shredded quite skillfully.

And now I have used John Oates and “shredding” in the same sentence. It’s time to burn my Iron Maiden Vans.

H&O wasn’t on tour behind a new release (their most recent: 2006’s House for Christmas), and the set consisted almost entirely of hits (but not all). Starting with 1973’s “She’s Gone” (6th song) through their Reagan era heyday (“Private Eyes”, “Maneater”, “Say It Isn’t So”). The only obscure tracks were probably “Back Together Again” and “Is It a Star”, by War Babies.

By the way, “Is It a Star” might be their most recognizable piece from the 70s. With that organ and that sax, it wouldn’t have been out of place in the back of a Barney miller episode (that’s a compliment, by the way).

Speaking of which, longtime H&O saxophonist Charles DeChant looks so much like Brent Spiner in Independence day I kept thinking about it every time he took the stage.

The band’s enthusiasm was contagious, from the cheerful “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” to the four-song encore that ended with “You Make My Dreams”. But without other hits like “Did It in a Minute”, “One on One”, “Family Man” or “Adult Education”, the whole was rather superficial. Then again, this is Houston, and people would have started heading for their cars at 10:30 am anyway.

Personal bias: I probably considered myself too cool from school when Hall and Oates were at their peak, but they certainly grew up with you.

The crowd: Lots of middle aged guys with alarming enthusiasm.

Heard in the crowd: “Is this yacht rock?” ”

Random emptying of the notepad: “Knowing all the words in ‘Cool for Cats’ is at least as great as ‘It’s the end of the world as we know it.'”

SET LIST
Maneater
Out of reach
Modern love method
Say it’s not
You lost that feeling of love
She left
Sara Smile
Is it a star
Together again
I can’t go there (no I can do it)

BIS
Rich girl
Fuck on my list
Private eyes
You make my dreams come true

Click to enlarge Coming and Coming - PHOTO BY SCOTT SHAVER

Go and come

Photo by Scott Shaver

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