My Uber driver asked me why I was going to T-Mobile Arena. I responded, “Hall and Oates concert.”
His reply: “I don’t know that one.”
It wasn’t one of those, “Boy, do I feel old,” moments. More than anything I was shocked, wondering how the guy has gone through life without hearing “Rich Girl” or “You Make My Dreams” or at least catching that “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” episode where Charlie thinks the duo is just one person.
“Holland is his first name,” the character insists. Great episode.
You could tell from the packed house inside T-Mobile that, when it came to Hall and Oates, my Uber driver was on the outside looking in. Although it didn’t start filling up until midway through opening act Tears for Fears, the place was packed with a cross-generational, cross-cultural mix of fans ready to jam with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame duo.
Tears for Fears provided the perfect warm-up, thrilling the crowd early as they entered the stage to Lorde’s cover of their own “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” before launching into the 1985 classic. The set, which included all of the band’s hits plus a cover of Radiohead’s “Creep,” peaked with “Head Over Heels,” at which point I think every person on the floor at T-Mobile simultaneously pulled their phones from their pockets and started recording.
About 20 minutes after the English rockers wrapped, it was Holland’s turn, and when Mr. Hall and Mr. Oates walked out to greet the crowd, you got the sense that they were veterans in this game, fully aware of what their fans wanted and ready to deliver.
Photos by Stacey Torma, Powers Imagery for T-Mobile Arena
It started with “Family Man,” a decent song, not a blockbuster, but a warm-up track. The same way one might warm up their karaoke voice with Bertie Higgins’ “Key Largo” before pulling out Naughty By Nature’s “Hip Hop Hooray.”
It was the duo’s way of feeling out the audience. If the crowd knew “Family Man”—which they did—it meant the evening would go exactly as planned.
Daryl Hall did most of the talking for the evening, introducing songs along the lines of, “We’re going to play a song off our [insert album name here],” which creates mystery for about a second until you hear the first chords of “Maneater” or “Say It Isn’t So.”
But that’s what you want in a Hall and Oates concert. You want the hits. The good thing is, they know it, and that means they know better than to veer off into “This is off our new album” territory. In fact, the only veering came five songs in when the duo played a cover of the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin Feeling” that was so intense couples on the floor got out of their seats and started dancing in the aisles.
It felt like a track they should close with, rather than stick in the middle of their set. But it proved to be the perfect lead-in to classics “She’s Gone” and “Sara Smile,” the latter performed by Hall at a grand piano.
“I love playing that song, I could play it a million times,” Hall said of “Sara.”
The plus side of having a multi-hit resume means the artist can rearrange music and extend tracks to their heart’s delight, and that was something to be witnessed as the duo wrapped their set with a jam session of “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” featuring a combination of guitar, bass, keys, woodwinds, horns, and drums (and possibly triangles) before exiting to a standing ovation on the floor.
The floor, despite having reserved seating, seemed to be the place in which people were most comfortable standing up and dancing. But when Mr. Hall and Mr. Oates returned for the encore—kicking if off with “Rich Girl” and capping the evening with “You Make My Dreams”—you couldn’t hold back those who had sat in their stadium seats during the entire show.
I hopped in my Uber on the way out of T-Mobile. My driver asked if there was a concert happening tonight. I told him Hall and Oates and Tears for Fears played.
“That was tonight?” he asked. “I thought it was tomorrow night; I was gonna go!”