‘They really do endure’: How do Hall and Oates keep their hits fresh on stage?

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A Hall and Oates concert is a communal experience, touching on decades of shared musical memories. Still, how does the duo keep things fresh playing these all-too-familiar hits night after night after night? John Oates’ answer might surprise you.

“The band and the audience does it,” Oates tells Daniel Shaw of Aspen Public Radio. “Luckily for us, the songs have stood the rest of time. They really do endure, and that’s a testament. I’m not trying to, you know, brag on my and Daryl, but it’s a testament to our songwriting — because, when you write a song, your goal is to write one that will stand the test of time and will sound just as good 30 years from now as it does now. Fortunately for us, a lot of our songs have done that. That’s where it all begins.”

Charlie DeChant is perhaps the most familiar figure backing Hall and Oates. Known as Mr. Casual, DeChant’s signature sax sound was most memorably featured on the 1982 No. 1 hit “Maneater.” Their touring group also includes drummer Brian Dunne, bassist Klyde Jones and guitarist Shane Theriot.

“If you have a good song, and you have a great band of players behind you,” Oates adds, “they subtly interpret things within the song — and it might not be something that the audience is quite aware of. But it won’t sound like the record and, in many cases, it sounds way better, because the song’s been played so many times. We have so much more experience with it. Then there’s the energy of the crowd, the moment. I can do something, or Daryl might do something — a subtle little vocal thing that someone will pick up on — and it leads to something else. So, we’re constantly working within the framework of the arrangement. There’s a lot of subtleties going on.”

Oates is set for a September 5, 2014 show at Fort Collins, Colorado, before Hall and Oates make another series of appearances — including September 7 at Charlottesville, Virginia; September 17 at Greensboro, North Carolina; and September 18 at Baltimore, among others.

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