REVIEW WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
The quote of the night belonged to John Oates.
“It’s a first tonight for you; it’s a first tonight for us. Here in Fishtown — how about that? I used to be scared to come up here,” he said during Hall & Oates’ Oct. 1 christening concert at the Fillmore Philadelphia.
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Fully aware of history being made — Daryl Hall proclaimed the Fillmore “a great addition to the Philly scene” from the stage — just for the occasion, the Philly-proud Rock and Roll Hall of Famers revived “Did It in a Minute” from the “Private Eyes” album. It came on the heels of their 1984 No. 1 “Out of Touch,” which didn’t quite have the same zing in concert without the extra large ‘80s production of the record.
Backed by a six-piece band, Hall & Oates delivered another one you rarely hear anymore, “Say It Isn’t So.” In 1983, it was the new song on their greatest hits collection “Rock ‘N’ Soul, Part 1.” It became a big hit in its own right because rock’s most successful duo was at the zenith of their Midas-touch command of the pop charts.
“Say It Isn’t So” featured one of the show’s several standout solos by long-time H&O saxophonist Charles DeChant, who always seems to teeter on the edge of completely upstaging Daryl Hall and John Oates, even when he’s soloing in tandem with guitarist Shane Theriot. And with DeChant’s rock star attire — in this case, a gold jacket similar to the one from the cover of “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t be Wrong” — no wonder. The band’s ironic nickname for him is “Mr. Casual.”
Their top 20 remake of The Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” was warmly appreciated by the sell-out crowd.
The vocal harmonies, an important part of the Hall & Oates sound, started to really jell starting with “Las Vegas Turnaround,” a favorite from the 1973’s “Abandoned Luncheonette.”
They also dug deep into their ‘70s catalog for “Do What You Want, Be What You Are,” which Hall creatively scat vocal soloed into “I Can’t Go For That” (which features DeChant’s showcase solo).
Before the second of two ace encores of H&O gold-selling singles (“Rich Girl” to “You Make My Dreams,” then “Kiss on My List” to “Private Eyes”) Hall seized the opportunity to plug the new season of his web series “Live from Daryl’s House,” as well as his Daryl’s House Club restaurant in upstate New York.
So how did the venue do for its big coming-out party?
The Fillmore has successfully solved the worst parts about going to any standing, general admission show. If you didn’t get there early to stake a claim on a spot, that’s OK. Just step out to the bar and lobby areas, where there’s ample space to escape from crowds that may be a bit too close together for some. Video screens there are at a comfortable viewing level to see what’s happening. There are even spots where the on-stage action is video-projected onto the wall. VIP ticket-holders have the option to duck into the Circle Bar if they need a breather.
The Wolfgang Puck-created menu, up on the walls for all to see, is written in chalk, suggesting that items can be added. Noticeably upscaling the concert eating experience, options include Korean barbecue pork belly sliders, bratwurst bites; Philadelphia cheesesteak paninis; Parmesan herb fries; Worcestershire chips; Italian chopped salad, Chinese chicken salad; and spinach artichoke dip or charcuterie platters, both in portions made to share. A throwback to Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium, look for the tub of post-show complimentary apples on your way out.
The lighting and sound are top-notch, and the chandeliers are a gorgeous touch. When the lights were down, they glowed purple, with tiny orange lights that gave the illusion that there were candles in them.
It’s going to be interesting to see what the Fillmore’s impact will be on neighboring clubs Johnny Brenda’s and The Barbary, who are also competing for a fair share of the market’s live music pie.