Ah, yes, the annual package tour.
They crop up every summer — a.k.a. stadium season — coupling one veteran act with another, some lineups making a hell of a lot more sense than others, ranging from desperate clunkers to the bands that are suddenly “cool” to like again.
Two seats to see Guns N’ Roses with Lenny Kravitz? Coveted. Tickets to see Poison and Def Leppard (with a little bit of Tesla sprinkled in)? Ker-plunk. Passes for Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper? Okay, but odd.
But when Daryl Hall and John Oates teamed up with Tears for Fears for a summer tour, the pop crusaders packed Boston’s TD Garden on Saturday night (June 24) in a full-fledged ode to the current re-realization of ’80s classics and all their glory. And it clicks.
The two groups melded together perfectly, their slight set design distinctions completely indicative of their respective personalities: A futuristic, neon pink set of moving LED panels for Tears for Fears; a backdrop of twinkling, star-like bulbs for Hall and Oates, complete with an overhead lighting rig that was brought in specifically for them, no doubt.
Tears for Fears proved they were no opening act on this co-headlining tour, opening with their best and most popular song. How can the set get better from there? Where do you go after everyone has linked arms and staggered around to “Everybody Wants to Rule the World?” If you’re Roland Orzabal, you cover Radiohead’s “Creep,” which oddly almost garnered more love than their originals, though it pairs wonderfully with the ungodly dread of “Mad World.”
And while Tears for Fears are certainly no one-hit wonder (I don’t blaspheme), the amount of their tunes that the GP can recognize is minimal, so it was maybe an odd choice for an opener — as was having an encore, but it treated the good people at the Garden to “Shout,” so it was warranted.
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Hall & Oates, on the other hand, saved the majority of their home-run-hits for last in a seamless encore that strewed together “Rich Girl,” “Kiss on My List,” “Private Eyes,” and “You Make My Dreams.” They kick-started their performance with a crowd-pleaser, too — their familiar version of Mike Oldfield’s “Family Man.” It was a move that the (very varied) crowd of superfans swallowed whole ravenously. When it comes to spending a certain dollar amount to see your favorite band, the “they can do no wrong” mentality flicks on, and suddenly even tuning a guitar onstage becomes iconic.
The top-selling duo’s draw ranged from women who still want to wed Hall and his blonde locks to 20-something couples unironically dressed as the musical duo, complete with coiffed hair and porn ‘staches. Two separate couples did this. TWO. Maybe it’s because the duo’s svelte soft rock (raise a glass to “Sara Smile”) would still be en vogue if it came out today, whereas the hard rock of yesteryear would not. “Maneater,” for instance, is a few tweaks away from becoming a self-pitying Drake song, although we have far more misogynistic terms like “thot” for forward women now.
While Hall & Oates’ encore was truly their pulling-out-all-the-stops finale, the meat of their set dished out some material from the vaults, namely “Is It A Star” from their more experimental opus War Babies.
Hall & Oates can still shred and hammer on a piano — as they should, for what they’re charging — but the intricacies they decided to keep for the live performance is what sold the whole experience. Hearing the way the saxophone notes sashay into “Maneater” and how the flute completes “I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)” makes for that ecstatic “yessss” moment for fans as they hear their favorite song precisely the way they fell in love with it, except much louder and in vivid technicolor right in front of them. The signature ending quip “you’re a rich bitch, girl” in “Rich Girl” somehow didn’t make the cut, but we’ll look the other way on that one.
Taking everything into consideration, the phrase “doing well for their age” comes to mind, albeit being a way you usually describe your grandpa. In this case, it might actually be warranted.
“Wow, I can’t believe you all came out to see us on a Wednesday night!” Oates told the packed TD Garden Saturday evening. We’re still not sure if he was joking or not.
Photos by Victoria Wasylak; follow her on Twitter @VickiWasylak.