Daryl Hall and John Oates performed 13 songs — all of them top 20 singles — ith finesse and panache Friday at the Bowl, the sort of polished and dependable performance one expects from a Broadway tuner five years into its run. The most popular duo in pop music history celebrated their legacy rather than attempt to alert fans to songs they might have missed back when 45s and LPs were the medium. And while the set included only one cover from the days when Philly soul dominated the charts, it suggested there’s a case to be made for and a method to get H&O back on the front line.
Hall, the rare ’80s star with MTV-driven hits that had depth, has a voice that shows no signs of age; he performed with a charming effortlessness. While considerable reverb was placed on his vocals when they opened the show with “Maneater,” a standard way to mask flaws, the vocal mike was near flat when the second tune, “Say It Isn’t So,” started.
Hall & Oates, noting that the night was billed as a Philadelphia soul celebration, closed with Billy Paul’s soaring ballad of a tawdry affair, “Me and Mrs. Jones.” Perfectly rendered by singer and band, perf was a solid reminder of Hall’s interpretative powers, which have gone largely ignored over the last 15 years or so. Right producer, right label — that situation could and should be remedied.
Opening act the Spinners, the Detroit harmony group that gained fame from their Philadelphia recordings in the ’70s, had an off night. Group vocals were weak and pitchy, dated dance steps out of sync and lead singer Bobbie Smith was consistently off-key. The indifferent audience only reacted to the baritone Henry Fambrough, whose vocal parts are not big enough to salvage the act.