Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Hall & Oates teamed with Tears For Fears for a North American tour that visited the Schottenstein Center on Monday, May 22. Although the pairing seemed confusing at first, coupling two bands who so thoroughly shaped the landscape of ‘80s rock ultimately made for a stellar, roughly four hour show that had fans of either, or more likely, both bands relishing every second.
Singer/guitarist Allen Stone opened the show with a short, three or four song set that found the guitarist using a looping station to compose his funky sound on the spot. He’s clearly a competent musician who wears a Jason Mraz meets Stevie Wonder vibe well.
Tears For Fears has delivered anthemic rock music that is deeply in the DNA of electronic, rock, and dance artists for over 30 years. Taking the stage to Lorde’s cover of Songs From The Big Chair standout “Everybody Wants to Rule The World,” the band seamlessly slipped into their own version of the chart topper.
The core duo, bassist Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal, have always carefully balanced the line between fiery and vitriolic fist pumpers and pristine pop songcraft and their set was comprised of some of the best of those compositions, including the swinging “Sowing the Seeds of Love” and tender “Advice for the Young at Heart” and the edgier “Mad World” and “Change.” Additionally, the band took delivered an ambitious, moody version of the Radiohead hit “Creep.” On a side note, the band is employing back up vocalist Carina Round (also of Puscifer), whose contributions to the overall vocal sound cannot be understated.
Additionally, Orzabal offered some memories about Columbus, including lamenting about being sidelined during the SFTBC tour in middle Ohio with vocal ailments and remarking that the city reminds him of French onion soup, something he ate while in recovery. Distracted from that thought for a moment he surveyed the arena saying, “Look at all the exit signs,” before joking, “they’re beautiful.”
Following the bands note-for-note performance of “Head Over Heels” they left the stage briefly to return for an encore of “Shout.” It is challenging to articulate how absolutely huge this song sounded, but the buzz in the aisle ways when it finished, including during my own discussions with other seasoned music journalists on site, was that it was perhaps one of the best live performances by any band of any song we’d ever seen. An absolutely goosebump-inducing, tear jerking and epic finale.
In the headliner position for the evening, Hall & Oates delivered a longer set (around two hours) comprised of the most recognizable songs from their 40-year cannon, including “Sara Smile,” “Kiss On My List,” and Private Eyes.” The band opened with pop hit “Maneater” before delving in to more soulful R&B and blues oriented material.
Noteably, Hall & Oates’ Charles DeChant demanded attention with his passionate saxophone solos, which proved a highlight of the evening. “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” also shone a spotlight on the band’s back up percussionists who provided a funky backbone that gave the song its considerable groove. The band also delivered a soulful cover of Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost that Lovin Feelin’,” which provided some in the crowd (including the couple in front of me) to snuggle up to (or motorboat in their case) their companions.
The band also played some deeper cuts, including “Is It A Star” from their experimental album War Babies, which was just as enthusiastically received as their classic hits. If anything, Daryl Hall and John Oates proved that they are still sharp musicians who are at the top of their game, even at age 70.
Words by Tim Anderl. Photos by Christopher Corn
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Hall & Oates: