Hall & Oates
Tears For Fears

September 15, 2017
Staples Center
Los Angeles, CA

Review by Shawn Perry
Hall & Oates photos by Chris Epting

The best of the 80s came alive at the Staples Center when Halls & Oates and Tears For Fears landed in LA with their respective brands of polished pop rock with a silver sheen. Not exactly a musical match on the surface, the two groups nevertheless filled the arena and had everyone on their feet for most of the night. Be it the new wave twist of Tears For Fears, or the blue-eyed soul of Hall & Oates, it was clear that by the end of the evening, both acts have a catalog of rich and timeless music.

The show started before 7:00 with a short acoustic set by R&B singer Allen Stone. Tears For Fears followed with a 65-minute performance with a heavy focus on the first three albums — 1983's The Hurting, 1985's Songs From The Big Chair and 1989's The Seeds Of Love — that elevated them to world fame. They book-ended their 13-song set with their two Number One hits from 1985, opening with "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" and encoring with "Shout."

Tears For Fears leaders Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith were joined by guitarist Charlton Pettus, drummer Jamie Wollam, keyboardist Doug Petty and a very pregnant Carina Round on backing vocals. Other charting singles like "Sowing The Seeds Of Love,""Change," "Mad World," "Advice For The Young At Heart," and "Pale Shelter" were rolled out in quick succession to the delight of the audience. One of the most surprising moments of the night was when Orzabal stepped up to sing Radiohead's "Creep," complete with maximum intensity and minimal expletives.

Having to postpone the originally scheduled shows with Hall & Oates in California due to a "family emergency," Tears For Fears surpassed expectations with an astounding performance that received a rousing ovation. The band is currently working on their first new album since 2004, so it's likely they'll be back sooner than later.

After a short intermission, Hall & Oates was up next. This reporter's interest in the duo had been piqued recently after reading John Oates' memoir Change Of Seasons, a exceedingly well-written tome co-authored with Chris Epting that follows the musician's rise, fall and resurgence. Now it was time to see if the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers could deliver.

Accompanied by Shane Therlot on guitar, Porter Carroll Jr. on percussion, Charlie DeChant on sax and flute, Klyde Jones on bass, Eliot Lewis on keyboards and Brian Dunne on drums, Daryl Hall and John Oates came out swinging with a triple whammy of "Family Man," "Maneater" and "Out Of Touch" before taking a breath. Their spirited cover of the Righteous Brothers classic "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" revealed a deep appreciation for their roots, but "One On One," which followed, seemed to hit a nerve that got Hall howling and everyone out of their seat.

Before launching into "She's Gone," the pair's first hit from their second album, 1973's Abandoned Luncheonette, Hall remarked, "This is the song that brought us to places like this." It certainly defines the chemistry between the two as both harmonized and traded verses with resplendent precision. The crowd swayed and marveled at how it fell together so organically.

Hall, looking far younger than his 70 years with his blond, wind-tunnel tested hair-do, then sat behind a grand piano and stroked through "Sara Smile" before Therlot brought the song to a close with a soulful solo. The bluesy "Is It A Star" from 1974's War Babies (an "experimental" album according to Hall) gave Oates a chance to stretch out on his Strat and show everyone that he and his partner are perfectly capable of reaching beyond the pop label they're so often saddled with.

Taking the whole band into account, each player has the chops that defy most folks impressions of what Hall and Oates are about. During "I Can't Go For That," DeChant blew his sax like a calm gale on a sandy beach, Carroll pitched a few high vocalizations, and the rest of the band locked in on the infectious rhythm. The encore was going to have to be epic if these guys wanted to get out of Staples unscathed. To that point, they had little to worry about.

The four-song encore began with "Rich Girl," the first Hall and Oates single to hit the top spot. It was followed by "Kiss On My List," their second number one, and "Private Eyes," their third. How do you top three big singles and end the show on a high note? If you're Hall and Oates, you go to "You Make My Dreams," a bouncy, optimistic little number that's been featured in multiple movies and pivotal in reviving interest in the group. By the end of the night, it was only too obvious to see that Daryl Hall and John Oates can still stir the emotions while living up to their legend as the most successful pop duo in the world.

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