Hall, Oates and a string quartet

In the local press and elsewhere, much has been written recently about John Oates’ quintessentially 1980s mustache (it’s actually long-gone), but if you ask one longtime fan, his colleague Daryl Hall has it all over him when it comes to hair.

Here in 2007, Hall’s shampoo-commercial worthy blond mane is as lustrous as it was when he first sang “Sara Smile” in the 1970s. He’s still singing “Sara Smile,” by the way. He did it distinctly and soulfully Wednesday at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where he and Oates performed before a crowd of folks who looked mostly like the duo’s original fans — not the new crop who are enjoying Hall and Oates’ Internet parodies. (Two guys in the audience were dressed up as the pair, and the real duo acknowledged them with good humor.)

No matter. Old fans once again got a sampling of the duo’s utter professionalism during the satisfying two-hour show, which spanned their decades of musicmaking. As always, the big hits were played, and they sounded as fresh as the day they were written: “Sara Smile,” “One on One,” “She’s Gone,” “Maneater,” “Family Man,” “I Can’t Go For That.”

H&O devotees enjoyed a few more obscure numbers, including the beautiful lament of “It’s a Laugh” as well as a couple of newer tunes: “Do It For Love” and “Soul Violins.”

The duo was backed by a five-piece band, which included longtime guitarist T-Bone Wolk and sax man Charlie DeChant. An excellent string quartet added particular texture to “Say It Isn’t So” and “Dreamtime,” a tune off one of Hall’s solo albums, among other songs.

Oates, who lets Hall’s lead vocals and theatrics take up most of the stage, did get one tune: “How Does It Feel to be Back.” The pair played Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Hot Fun in the Summertime” during a notably special encore. Guitarist G.E. Smith, a former member of H&O’s band but possibly better known as a musician on “Saturday NightLive,” came onstage to join the fun.

Another selection toward the end of the set was “Out of Touch,” a song they said they hadn’t played since the 1980s. For the record, like the rest of the show, there was nothing out of touch about the affair.

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