Eagle Vision/Universal Music Group
DVD Produced and Directed by Joss Crowley
2CD+DVD Running Time: approximately 111 Minutes
DVD 9, 16:9 Screen Format, DTS Digital Surround Sound, Dolby Surround 5.1, Dolby Digital Stereo
Release Date: March 31, 2015
2. Out of Touch
3. Say It Isn’t So
4. Family Man
5. It’s Uncanny
6. Back Together Again
7. Las Vegas Turnaround
8. She’s Gone
9. Sara Smile
10. Do What You Want, Be What You Are
11. I Can’t go For That (No Can Do)
12. Rich Girl
13. You Make My Dreams
14. Kiss On My List
15. Private Eyes
Eagle Vision and Universal Music Group‘s new DVD/2 CD package Hall and Oates: Live in Dublin chronicles the duo’s first gig in the titular city’s Olympia Theater. Played to a sold out house, it was a great show to document. Not only is the setting intimate and beautiful but the Dubliners are an effusive and collaborative audience, singing along from stem to stern, making for a really engaging viewing and listening experience.
The 15 song set is a smart mix of crowd pleasers and more obscure material that spans the band’s history and puts a fresh spin on familiar hits. Fortunately Hall and Oates’ catalog is very malleable – ripe for rearrangement – meaning many of the kitschier studio embellishments found on the 80’s hits are eschewed for polished funky presentations that highlight the songs’ “evergreen” status. It also ensures that H&O don’t become a “cover band” of themselves.
Daryl Hall and John Oates’ stock in trade has been a palpable sincerity conveyed in the smooth soul crooning of their breakout tune “She’s Gone” through even the pop-iest of their mega-hits like “Kiss Is On My List.” It’s a believability that’s rooted in their vocal group tenure in the early days of the Philadelphia PA music scene that producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff eventually forged into TSOP: The Sound of Philadelphia. It’s exemplified in H&O tunes like “Sara Smile” and “Do What You Want, Be What You Are.” Both are represented on Live In Dublin in fine fashion. “Sara Smile” is all feel, Daryl announces it as “…the truth, plain and simple.” It’s a worthy successor to The Impressions. The deep soul of “Do What You Want…” gets an extended airing that features a fun solo duel between senior band member saxophonist Charlie DeChant and newest player guitarist Shane Theriot before it seamlessly slides into “I Can’t Go for That.” Theriot favors a scooped lead sound that cuts through the three guitar front line. He’s a fine improvisor who is also willing to replicate a studio solo when it’s a song’s melodic hallmark, as in “Private Eyes.”
The duo has always had a knack for finding great musicians for their stage bands from the very start. In the past members have included drummers Jerry Marotta and Mickey Curry, Elton’s Caleb Quaye, Peter Frampton’s “Alive” cohort Bob Mayo, Utopia’s Kasim Sulton and John Siegler and SNL’s house guitarist G.E. Smith and Bassist the late “T-Bone” Wolk. These are formidable shoes to fill but the current line-up is exceptional in their own right and they are deservedly highlighted in a bonus feature that offers a bit of biography on each member. Almost all of them are multi-instrumentalists, with the core players, including drummer Brian Dunne, coming from the Average White Band, and percussionist Porter Carroll Jr. having led Atlantic Starr. Along with their playing, background vocals are stellar from the staccato “watch out’s” in set opener “Maneater” to the “are watching you’s” on second encore closer “Private Eyes.”
My bottom line benchmark for any purchase is the level of likelihood I’ll return to the piece after the initial watch. Hall and Oates: Live in Dublin has been a pleasure to repeat spin for the purposes of this review, and will continue to be top of the heap for replay for some time to come. If you’re only interested in the video content I suggest you grab the BluRay, although the standard DVD looks very good up-sampled on my Playstation 3.
What’s missing? Well, I’m one of the oddballs who counts the Todd Rundgren produced War Babies album as a favorite, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for “Beanie G and the Rose Tattoo” to show up in a set list any time soon. That is unless some hipster record bin crawlers decide War Babies is H&O’s great lost Pet Sounds. Hmm… sounds like a Twitter crusade in the making. See hashtag above.