The argument can be made that Daryl Hall and John Oates were responsible for energizing the charts for a good part of the 1980s, thanks to the 34 hits that landed on “Billboard” magazine’s Hot 100, including six that reached the top of the chart.
Hall has always gravitated toward soul music, a taste fueled in part by growing up in Philadelphia.
“Local soul singers around me [really resonated], particularly the ones transitioning out of street-corner music. Outside of Philly, I liked Curtis Mayfield, Wilson Pickett – you name it,” he explained.
Fast forward to 2017, where Hall and Oates are on the road with Tears For Fears, which may seem an odd combination at first glance. But for Hall, the idea of a rock and soul act sharing the bill with a synth pop outfit is far from incongruous, despite the seemingly different fan bases.
“The shows have been slightly different because they play a different kind of music than we do,” he said. “But at the same time, I think that their fans certainly relate to what we do. They have a certain kind of timelessness to their music and it’s melodic. I think our fans really relate to that, so it works for me.”
Fans can expect requisite self-penned songs like “Say It Isn’t So,” “Sara Smile” and “Out Of Touch” alongside music ranging from Mike Oldfield (“Family Man”) to The Righteous Brothers (“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ ”).
“I think what we’ve done that’s a bit different from what we’ve done in the past is make it a little bit more textural. ... It’s a lot of close-ups, so you feel like you’re on stage with the band,” he pointed out. “We’ve changed up the song structure, so they flow in a slightly different way. I play a grand piano on a few songs, so that changes the mood. There are a lot of little mood changes in the show. It’s not just us going out there and playing wham, wham, wham – one song after the other. There’s a bit of nuance involved and everybody seems to like it and we like doing it, so that’s good.”
As if being one half of Hall and Oates isn’t enough, the singer-songwriter has kept busy with his passion for home restoration and recording an unnamed solo record, along with work on “Live From Daryl’s House,” his online webshow/podcast that’s been getting television airtime since 2011.
Hall performs with his band and guest artists on the show, which present the music in a live setting minus the bells and whistles that give so much contemporary music a prefabricated vibe.
“We do it all on camera,” he said. “You see the rehearsals and we go through these songs very quickly. I like that being-on-your-toes kind of feeling. I never know what’s going to happen with these new guests because a lot of these people, I’ve never met before. In general, the show is a forum to be really excited all the time and I think you can see it on our faces. Then you add some food to the mix and you have a show.”
As the consummate music fan, Hall has had a wide array of musicians drop by including Cheap Trick, Shelby Lynne, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, the late Sharon Jones, Toots and the Maytals, Smokey Robinson, Nick Lowe and Elle King. Given that oftentimes he doesn’t know many of these performers before they appear on camera together, this adds to the spontaneity inherent to the show.
“I just wanted to do something that was the opposite of what I’d been doing [on the road],” Hall said. “As far as being in the room, it creates an informal situation that you can’t create if you’re going to be on stage. ... I really wanted the audience to feel like a fly on the wall. I wanted it to be a natural experience and to hear how we create songs.”