Here’s a fact that might shock you: Hall & Oates have been churning out pop hits for almost 40 years. That’s right, the duo comprised of Daryl Hall & John Oates have charted a four-decade career and by all accounts, seemed to have lost none of their polish, fun or enthusiasm. For 2011’s 4th of July celebration at the Hollywood Bowl, the band joined the venue’s Hollywood Bowl Orchestra for a night of fun and fireworks.
The first half of the evening saw the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra (conducted by Thomas Wilkins) playing patriotic marches from America’s long history. “America the Beautiful” and “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” were somewhat unavoidable, but still felt a bit square in comparison to the promise of Hall & Oates’ lively material. Nevertheless, a night strongly advertising fireworks really couldn’t exist with out these American staples, so no need to bemoan their inclusion.
Hall & Oates came next, starting the night with one of their biggest hits, “Maneater” from H2O. Both singers started sounding a bit out of tune, but thankfully, this was only the standard experience of the band finding their comfort level amidst the venue’s sound. The quieter sounds of “Out of Touch” came next, starting the motif that many of their greatest songs share: a joyful and not somber romantic yearning. The band delved deep into their back catalog for the next two cuts, playing “Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song)” and “She’s Gone” from their 1973 release Abandoned Luncheonette.
After the sweet and crowd-pleasing “Sara Smile,” the next three songs were a joyous bounce of latter-day R&B. The humorous “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do),” the confrontational “Rich Girl” and the enrapturing “You Make My Dreams Come True” were each dance-inducing numbers that made catchy music seem downright justifiable. The duo left the stage briefly to allow the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra to perform “Stars and Stripes Forever” while an impressive fireworks display fired above the top of the venue. The band returned with the orchestra to finish off the evening with the even-tempo song “Private Eyes.” The pairing of the band with the orchestra may have been a bit odd, but it still made for a great night.