Hall & Oates' renewed reputation, or why I can't go for that | Durham Performing Arts Center | Clubs & Concerts | Indy Week
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Hall & Oates

Photo courtesy of DPAC

Hall & Oates

Hall & Oates' renewed reputation, or why I can't go for that 

When: Tue., Dec. 8, 7:30 p.m. 2015
Price: $60-$85



DPAC, DURHAM—Three decades past their early-'80s peak, Daryl Hall and John Oates still trail only The Carpenters as the second-most commercially successful duo in pop history. But their big hits now exist in a tough-to-parse nether zone between earnest and ironic appreciation.

Their best-selling single, "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)," is Philly soul cream cheese, a weird mix of too-stiff funk, hammy singing and flagrant sax fouls that doesn't deserve to come back around and resonate with the hip and young people. Nevertheless, on Pitchfork's recent "Top 200 Tracks of the 1980s," the tune arrived at No. 58, ahead ofPixies' "Gigantic," AC/DC's "Back in Black," Eazy-E's "Boyz-n-the-Hood," Guns N' Roses' "Sweet Child O' Mine," Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen" and so many other less dorky songs. Revisited, the song's open, emotive singing dwarfs its use of once-novel drum machine beats. In this, our year of Adele, smooth commercial singing simply carries more weight than compositional eccentricity.

But holding on to skepticism about Hall & Oates doesn't totally kill the fun of revisiting them. "Rich Girl" is uncomfortably patronizing, but it joins the better class-war anthem of Pulp's "Common People" in the songbook of spiteful karaoke classics. Dark, thoughtful Baltimore rock band Lower Dens have long held a cover of 1982's "Maneater" in their set list, revealing its genuinely foreboding feeling. And the best of the duo's smashes, 1980's "You Make My Dreams," crucially packs the power pop guitars just as tight as the backing vocal "oohs." When Hall exclaims "Listen to this," it's the riffs that have him so jazzed up. This is where their silliness escalates into real glee. We'll just happily consider this tour that song's 35th-anniversary run. 8 p.m., $60–$135, 123 Vivian St., Durham, 919-680-2787, www.dpacnc.com. —Jeff Klingman



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