Fans of Daryl Hall and John Oates in their heyday will be pleased to know they’re still making the same kind of music with sufficient energy, a shipshape band and some new but not alien material. The duo, now in their late 40s, may be hoping that the title of one of their new songs, “Time Won’t Pass Me By,” will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Thanks to a seemingly non-stop parade of No. 1 pop hits, the 1980s were spectacularly good for Hall and Oates, making them the biggest-selling duo act in the history of the record business. They had apparently struck a perfect set of balances that could appeal again and again to the mass market — fusing the feeling of soul with a commercial, hook-loaded songwriting formula. Even the physical contrast between the blond, movie-star looks of Hall and the swarthy Oates worked into the something-for-everyone equation.
Those balances are still virtually unaltered, right down to the anchor-like presence of loyal veteran sidemen T-Bone Wolk on bass and Charlie DeChant on saxes and flute. The material that Hall and Oates performed from their first album in seven years, “Marigold Sky” (on the BMG-distributed Push label), basically gave the formula another ride — sometimes leaning toward rock, sometimes back to soul, yet rarely breaking through with an arresting tune or riff. The major standout was a mid-tempo rocker, “The Sky Is Falling,” which built toward an appealing power vamp that, in the best showbiz tradition, was potent enough to leave the listener wanting more just before the encores kicked in.
Hall and Oates still have sufficient interest in their hits to punch them out with authority (“Maneater,” “One on One”), a smooth sense of nostalgia (“She’s Gone”), or, in the case of “Rich Girl,” to transform it with a broadly paced, soulful intro. And sometime in mid-set, with keyboardist Bob Mayo pumping blue smoke, Hall’s impassioned vocal preachings revealed his home-grown streak of pure Philly soul.