Many years ago Schaefer and then Dr. Pepper used to sponsor summer concerts at the Wollman Rink in Central Park. For $5 to $15 you could see top acts surrounded by NYC’s green oasis. Later the concerts moved to the pier next to the Intrepid (where I did not see U2 because who knew they were going to explode and become an arena act?) but it wasn’t quite the same. And then the concerts stopped although we do have SummerStage now.
Twice I saw Hall & Oates at those concerts. Both times Daryl Hall made me cry. I don’t know what it was but there is a quality in his voice when I heard it live that moved me to tears. So there was a lot for him to live up to when I went to see the live version of Live From Daryl’s House at the Beacon Theater. Special guests were Allen Stone and Miss Sharon Jones. I’d never heard of Stone but I knew Miss Jones would live up to all my expectations.
It was a beautiful spring day so I walked the twenty blocks up to the Beacon instead of switching trains. My seat was in the second row of the lower balcony in the center section. What a great seat. While we were waiting there was a screen showing past performances from Live From Daryl’s House.
First the LFDH Band came out and started playing and then Hall and the lead guitarist came out to huge applause. I’ve found mentions here and there online of the band members but I can’t find a full list. Hall played electric and acoustic guitar. There was a lead guitar, keyboard player, electric bassist, drummer, percussionist, and two saxophone/flute players.
The band played a few songs – the show opener, “It’s Uncanny,” “Save Me,” and new single, “Eyes for You.” Then Hall introduced Allen Stone by saying that he had an instant connection with him and that Stone reminded him of a younger version of himself. As soon as Stone opened his mouth you knew why. He sings the same type of blue-eyed soul that made Hall famous. With Stone as with all his guests Hall traded verses so you could hear the maturity in his voice compared with 24-year-old Stone. But Stone held his own with both Hall and Miss Jones. Stone and Hall sang “Celebrate Tonight,” “Figure It Out,” and “Unaware.” “Unaware” is the song that Stone is most known for and it is a wonder that someone so young created a song so simple and so soulful.
Then Hall introduced Miss Sharon Jones as one of the wonders of the world. She came out wearing a red, black, and silver fringed and sequined mini-dress and grabbed the mic and never stopped moving. She engaged everyone in the band and everyone in the audience. She started with “100 Days, 100 Nights” and had the band start playing it with a reggae beat so that she could dance around the stage. During “Tell Me” Miss Jones sang the guitar parts and dueled with the lead guitarist and then she and Hall scatted. Miss Jones asked Hall if he knew her life story and he said he did and the band launched into “I Learned the Hard Way.”
Then the weirdest thing happened. Hall explained that on his show they always break for a cooking spot. But because of the fire marshal they couldn’t set up a grill on the stage at the Beacon. So we watched a video of Tony Luke showing Hall, Stone, and Miss Jones how to make a pizza cheesesteak (Hall’s favorite). Towards the end of the video the audience was getting restless but the band returned just in time with Luke, who sang a song. A cheesesteak song. He wanted the audience to sing the chorus “cheesesteak Philly cheesesteak” and being a NYC audience most of us refused. But that and the occasional feedback (and the buzzing during the first half of the program) were the only problems.
Hall took the lead for one song, then Stone for “Say So,” and then everyone for “Everytime You Go Away.” Miss Jones took one verse that blew everyone away. She said the song reminded her of her mother who had recently passed and then she did another song for her mother, “Got a Thing on My Mind,” where she kicked off her shoes and danced all over the stage. Stone did another song and then everyone sang “I Can’t Go For That.”
Everyone left the stage and keyboards were set up for Hall. Everyone came back and sang “You Make My Dreams” with the audience bouncing and clapping and singing along and then the night was over.
This time Hall did not make me cry but he did live up to my expectations.
It was still a gorgeous night so I decided to walk the twenty blocks downtown to the subway home to Queens. But since I was in the neighborhood I stopped for the recession special at Gray’s ($4.95 for two hot dogs and a drink) because who knew when I’d be back.