Some of their best-known songs are nearly 40 years old, and they haven’t had a bona fide hit in almost 30, yet Daryl Hall and John Oates don’t sound like a heritage act. Chalk that up to a large catalog of solid gold hits that has sustained all of its luster and purity.
Saturday night, under a late-summer, star-studded sky at Starlight Theatre, more than 5,000 fans danced, swayed and sang along during a 90-minute set stocked with plenty of those hits. The duo and its six-piece band didn’t wait to ignite the festive mood. Right off the bat, they unleashed three top 10 hits: “Maneater,” which was rife with some dirty saxophone riffs from Charles DeChant; “Family Man”; then “Out of Touch,” a hit from 1984’s “Big Bam Boom” that sounds as contemporary today as it did 28 years ago. That one drew a lot of fans to their feet for the rest of the night.
The setlist rewarded fans of the “Abandoned Luncheonette” album, released in 1974. Three of its tracks made the list: “When the Morning Comes,” “Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)” and a gorgeous rendition of “She’s Gone,” a one of the duo’s earliest hits and best songs. Daryl Hall is 65, but his voice still has plenty of range, authority and expression.
The setting was idyllic. Both the weather and the sound were clear and crisp, and the crowd was ideal: attentive and enthusiastic. The place was full of couples submitting to whatever mood was rendered. There was a lull or two during songs like “When the Morning Comes” and “How Does it Feel To Be Back.” And the jam went on a little too long at the end of “I Can’t Go For That,” though it included some funky keyboard and guitar interplay between Hall and guitarist Paul Pesco. That time would have been better spent on a song left off the list, like “One on One” or their cover of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”
They finished the show with a flourish: a salvo of seven top 10 hits — five of them No. 1s — that spanned only six years, back when they filled the charts with the kind of styles and sounds top 40 radio craves these days. It showcased their diverse ways with pop, funk and soul, from the gorgeous love ballad “Sara Smile” to the funky “Rich Girl” to the closers, the irresistibly poppy “Kiss On My List” and “Private Eyes.” That one is more than 30 years old, but like almost every other song played this night, it aroused something more exciting than mere nostalgia.