With Todd Rundgren in Tow, the Duo Rocked North Charleston
By: Jeff Walker, Entertainment Writer
As one half of the pop rock duo Hall & Oates, Daryl Hall is a musical force to be reckoned with. The multi-talented singer songwriter and musician brought his solo act to the low country Thursday (Aug 11) night entertaining before a near sellout crowd at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center.
On tour together with longtime friend and fellow Philadelphia rocker Todd Rundgren, the two delighted fans (mostly baby boomers) for nearly three hours, offering up songs from their respective 50 plus years in the music industy. With Rundgren opening the show and Hall closing out the night, the pair sent out over 30 songs, including several top 10 radio hits, as well as a few well received covers.
With his salt & pepper hair and trademark dark sunglasses Rundgren opened the show with a few obscure songs displaying his versatility and work as the front man with Utopia. Four songs in he offered the familiar ‘We Gotta Get You a Woman’ his Top 20 hit from 1970. He jumped ahead 30 years with the ethereal number ‘Buffalo Grass‘ proving he has evolved musically throughout his career. He managed to draw the crowd back in with ‘I Saw the Light’ a Top 10 hit from 1972.
Past the midway point he really got diehard fans moving and singing along with his biggest overall hit. ‘Hello, It’s Me’ reached to number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart back in the summer of 1973, more than five years after he first recorded it in 1968 as a B-side with his first band Nazz.
Sharing Hall’s band, Rundgren peppered his remaining setlist with several R&B covers including ‘Ooo Baby, Baby‘ by Smokey Robinson and ‘I Want You’ by Marvin Gaye’. His stylings clearly reflect his appreciation for 70’s soul music. Rundgren closed with perhaps one of his most underappreciated tracks, ‘The Want of a Nail’ from the critically acclaimed 1989 ‘Nearly Human’.
With Rundgren setting the mood for the evening Daryl Hall made his way to the stage 20 minutes later. After acknowledging the crowd, the former Charleston resident jumped right into the music sending out ‘Dreamtime‘ a melodic up-tempo song from his second solo release ‘Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine’ (1986). The track clearly reflects the mood he and John Oates were channeling in the mid 1980’s. Backed by seasoned musicians and a Live from Daryl’s House backdrop, Hall entertained beautifully for a full 90 minutes.
Proving he has range Hall followed with ‘It’s Uncanny’ from 1977’s ‘No Goodbyes’. Although the H&O track didn’t crack the Top 40, his 2022 rendition demonstrates Hall is comfortable singing funky songs. ‘I’m In a Philly Mood’ mirrors his hometown roots, and clearly indicates his love for the genre. It also allowed his longtime friend Charles DeChant to wail away on the saxophone.
While English rocker Paul Young took Hall’s song ‘Every Time You Go Away’ to the top of the charts in 1985, it’s equally moving when the now 75-year-old pop icon belts it out. Not many crooners deliver blue-eyed soul like Daryl Hall.
Making his way to the grand piano, the right reverend of 70’s & 80’s pop rock called the Thursday night prayer meeting to order combining funk and gospel on ‘Sacred Songs’ and ‘Babs and Babs’, two lesser-known tracks from his personal collection. The 10-minute barrage was well received. Hall kept the crowd fully engaged with his soulful rendition of the Eurythmics ‘Here Comes the Rain Again’.
Nearing the live concert finish line Hall gave many fans what they came for during the final six numbers, putting his own spin on four Hall & Oates hits including extended versions of ‘Sara Smile’, and ‘I Can’t Go for That’. Backed by the Live from Daryl’s House house-band, Hall and his six-piece orchestra had the PAC rocking.
After a short exodus the returned for the final four track encore inviting Rundgren on stage for ‘Wait for Me’ a Top 20 Hall & Oates single from 1979, followed by Rundgren’s 1978 Top 30 track ‘Can We Still Be Friends’. Clearly the pop rock duo work well together and have a strong appreciation for each other’s deep catalog.
The two Rock n’ Roll HOF members definitely did not disappoint, paying tribute to 1960’s Philly bar band Soul Survivors who managed to have a Top 5 hit with their 1967 debut single ‘Expressway to Your Heart’. As Rundgren exited the stage Hall began pounding out a familiar keyboard riff. He had nearly 2000 fans singing and swaying along to ‘You Make My Dreams’, just one of four Top 40 tracks off their 1980 album ‘Voices’.
While Todd Rundgren and Daryl Hall both made their mark in the 1970’s, their road tour to 2022 is as different as night and day. Respectively their showmanship, overall stage presence and vocal stylings couldn’t be any more mismatched. More akin to monotone to stereo or black & white to color television.
Rundgren’s musicianship would never come into question. History has recorded he’s adept at just about every instrument known to rock n’ roll. And although his voice kept pace with his musicianship well into his 60’s, at 74 his once smooth voice has gone south, so much that even he admitted it during his performance, adding that although his voice is shot at least his old guitar would never fail him. Hardcore Rundgren fans probably overlooked his lackluster sound, focusing more on the handful of classic rock hits he provided during the 1970’s.
On the flip side of the record Hall’s voice and his command on stage are intact. Much like his songwriting Hall has a way of introducing each number, offering interesting back stories, and making fans feel like they’re sitting in his living room. It’s not uncommon for aging singers to lose their voice, yet somehow Hall’s biggest musical tool has matured like a fine wine. Just shy of 76 he undoubtedly could sing blues and R&B numbers well into his eighth decade on earth.
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