"They'll only come out at night ..." A late-nighter with Hall & Oates in St. Pete
Daryl Hall & John Oates probably stood backstage -- probably somewhere underneath the centerfield bleachers -- for hours Saturday night in St. Petersburg, wishing they'd never agreed to play a concert after a Tampa Bay Rays game.
No offense to the Rays, but it was one of those nights were the bats warmed up and the game dragged on forever. By the time the home team beat the Chicago White Sox 8-5, it was beyond curfew for the under-18 crowd and time to rush home and pay off the babysitter for the rest of us. (Why don't the Rays move these "concert games" to 5 or 6 p.m. starts?)
Despite the late hour, the crowd was eager to see the R&B popsters on '80s Night at the Trop. (BTW, I totally ruled at the '80s Trivia Challenge on the JumboTron, but the people around me were either really impressed ... or really annoyed!)
The duo took to the tiny stage in centerfield and began with Maneater, the biggest hit of their career and an odd choice as the first tune. (For longtime fans, Daryl and John appeared to play their usual set last night.) The whole first half of the set was suffocated by their slower tunes: Family Man, One on One, Out of Touch, She's Gone, etc. A full half hour into the set, people waiting for Private Eyes and Kiss Is On My List were trickling out early, myself included.
It all leads me to an uncomfortable question: Is it time for Daryl Hall to take an extended vacation? God knows I love their music, but in the last two shows I've seen, Hall looks a bit bored or distracted. Maybe impatient is the right word (and rightfully so last night; the people at the mixing board couldn't get the sound right, which I'm sure is a huge challenge anyway in a cavernous sports stadium.) There's just a smirk there that I can't read. But it doesn't feel good. If he's not enjoying himself, then take a break. Daryl, you've earned it.
I just don't want to see Hall & Oates become an '80s punchline, a group that tours just for the cash and not the passion. Maybe I'm wrong about Daryl -- we'll likely never know the truth since Oates handles all press interviews and other publicity chores these days (he also sang Take Me Out to the Ballgame for the seventh inning stretch). But I can't go for a Hall & Oates partnership that is giving less than 100 percent. No can do.