review of the Hall & Oates & Rundgren concert in Atlanta, GA, on

Review by Robert Cass (Switch to

To me, Chastain Amphitheatre is a fine place to see a concert, especially one that starts close to sunset. By that time it's not too hot anymore, and a nice breeze hits you during the concert. I'm a little claustrophobic, so I'll take comfortable (albeit metal) seats, plenty of leg room and fresh air over a crowded, smoke-filled, standing-room-only club any day. I wasn't too happy when I found out that the cheapest tickets were $42.50, but once the concert was over, my friend and I agreed that we'd gotten our money's worth. One thing you can say about rock veterans like Todd Rundgren and Hall & Oates is that after touring and performing for 30 years, they know what they're doing, and they know how to put on a great show.

I missed Rundgren's first two songs because he started right at 7:30, and my friend and I had trouble getting to Chastain on time because of traffic near the venue. I originally wasn't going to go to the concert because of a prior commitment (Paul Westerberg was also playing in Atlanta that night, which made my predicament doubly painful), but after meeting Rundgren at work earlier that day and hearing him say that he would be playing some of his Philly Soul-style songs, I decided to be irresponsible and go to the concert. I work at Cartoon Network Online, and Rundgren was visiting the building in which I work that day because he's apparently a fan of "Space Ghost Coast to Coast," which is produced on the opposite side of the building. I walked over to that side of the building and intercepted Rundgren when I had the chance, introduced myself and asked him if he could come over to the CN Online offices and meet some of his fans. He graciously accepted and made everyone's day. If Todd is God, then God is good.

The Rundgren albums that I know and love and listen to over and over again are the ones from the early to mid-'70s. He's recorded so much that I've found it impossible to find and hear all of it, and I'm not really into his Utopia material or experimental stuff, but his pop songs are amazing, as you know, and of course I respect him for making whatever kind of music he wants to make. That having been said, I didn't recognize several of the songs I heard Rundgren play during his set at Chastain, although "Cliché," "Hello It's Me," "Love Is the Answer" and "Parallel Lines" were familiar (I'm disappointed that I missed "Love of the Common Man" while I was buying my ticket). I agree with the person who said that Rundgren's heart didn't seem to be into "Hello It's Me," but that song is almost 35 years old at this point, so who can blame him? It's like when Alex Chilton is asked to play any of his old Big Star songs; he's not that interested in revisiting the past, and it's possible that these artists' biggest hits are songs they've never particularly liked compared to their other songs.

Hall & Oates gave a great show, playing most of their hits, although I was slightly disappointed that they didn't play "Private Eyes," seeing as how that's a great audience clap-along song; H&O's band tried to get us to clap along to other songs the entire night, so why not play the one H&O song that people instantly identify as "the song with the claps"? Hall & Oates played their new single, "Do It for Love," which -- surprise surprise! -- isn't half-bad, and they played a song from Oates' new solo album, which I actually wouldn't mind hearing again. 

Hall & Oates knew what their audience (which wasn't just vanilla-white, by the way -- keep in mind that "I Can't Go for That" went to #1 on the R&B charts in 1981) wanted to hear, though, and they didn't disappoint with their song selection, aside from the exclusion of "Private Eyes" and "You Make My Dreams," but they have so many hits that it would've been impossible to play all of them. Their encores with Rundgren were definitely the best part of the entire show, and it was great to see Rundgren sing the lead on "Wait for Me" and the chorus on "Kiss on My List," with Hall singing the lead on "I Saw the Light." Hall & Oates' hits from the early '80s are some of the first pop songs I remember hearing on the radio, and it's always a nostalgic thrill to hear them again. I discovered Rundgren's pop craftsmanship only six years ago, but like I said, I listen to the albums I have over and over again.

The Hall & Oates & Rundgren concert on August 13th was one of the best I've ever been to. My friend even said she wished it had been recorded for a live album. Meeting one of my heroes prior to the concert made the experience all the more memorable.

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8/13/2002 - Chastain Park - Atlanta, GA

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