Sunday morning coming down

We made it to the Xcel Center this past Thursday night in St. Paul to see Daryl Hall and John Oates in concert. The Xcel Center is the home of the Minnesota Wild; it’s not built for music. The show did not disappoint, however, and the crowd filled the arena. The crowd packed all three balconies to the rafters.

We were seated on the main floor. I milled around after Tears for Fears, waiting to get a photo of Hall and Oates when they took the stage. Attending the show with her husband, Power Line reader Jane Smith stopped to say hello. Like everyone else I chatted with at the show, Jane couldn’t have been nicer.

My wife didn’t know either Tears for Fears or Hall and Oates, but she loved them both. She really flipped over the Hall and Oates portion of the show. At age 70, Daryl Hall is singing better than ever. His voice has matured. It has character. He now sounds better on the Hall and Oates hits live in concert than he does on the recordings of decades ago.

Hall and Oates are backed by the same crack musicians you see on Live at Daryl’s House: musical director Shane Theriot on lead guitar, Klyde Jones on bass, Charlie DeChant on saxophone, Eliot Lewis on keyboards, Porter Carroll on percussion and Brian Dunne on drums. All but Jones and Dunne contribute backing vocals.

St. Paul was an early stop on a long tour. If you can seize an opportunity to see the show, I think you’ll be happy you did. I want to take the occasion to post a few related videos one last time.

Hall and Oates grew up on the Philadelphia music scene. They met as undergraduates at Temple University. In the video below they honor their roots covering the Billy Paul hit “Me and Mrs. Jones,” written and produced by Philadelphia’s own Gamble and Huff (with writing help from Cary Gilbert). The vocal and the arrangement track the original. Performing before a hometown audience, Hall notes the song’s local connection. History must be told! Hall should probably also have explained the ancient concept of guilty love on which the song is based.

The video below features the young artist Diane Birch from the Live at Daryl’s House series. She and Hall sing “Fall In Philadelphia.” Birch takes to it so naturally you might think it’s her song, but Hall wrote it when John Oates was living with him in the fall of 1969.

Returning from Bryn Mawr with his guitar in hand to Hall’s rented house in Philadelphia late one September night, Oates was mugged. Courtesy of his guitar teacher, Oates had been out jamming in the dressing room of a folk club with Doc and Merle Watson. “The natural high of the evening was suddenly snuffed,” Oates writes in his new memoir. “The little hippie neighborhood that we lived in was crawling with drug dealers and ne’er do wells,” Oates explains.

When he made it home Oates told Hall what had happened. Inspired by Oates’s mugging, Hall “sat down at his little Wurlitzer electric piano and wrote” the song the next day. Hall’s bicycle had been stolen the week before. The mugging and the stolen bicycle both made it into the song, but this line also bears the stamp of real life: “I’m getting twenty bills to every letter.”

“Say It Isn’t So” is a mainstay of the live show. In concert it is one of the two or three songs on which the band stretches out. The video below is from their 2008 set at the Troubador with the late T-Bone Wolk on lead guitar (as he is in the video with Diane Birch). I love the song’s pleading. That too bears the stamp of real life.

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