Oates Takes Ownership
Oates Takes Ownership
The Quieter Half of the Daryl Hall & John Oates Partnership Finally Gets His Limelight
By Andrew Cook
Pick a band, any band, and a five-minute video on Youtube is all that’s necessary for you to discover which members the camera loves… and which it doesn’t. It’s a sad, unfair, often fickle thing, as any successful song only comes about from the collaboration and cooperation of each musician contributing their own piece of the pie to an ultimate whole, no one element more or less integral than the others - and yet for every glorious minute of Pete Townshend savagely windmilling his guitar or chopping an amp to pieces, there’s an obligatory but all-too-brief millisecond of John Entwistle quietly and unassumingly (almost lazily) playing some of the most intricate, complex, and jaw-dropping bass lines in music history. In the Beatles’ famous rooftop concert, the footage lingers lovingly on Paul McCartney and John Lennon as they do their typical Lennon & McCartney thing, and only every once in a while does it cut to poor George and Ringo, as if suddenly remembering “Oh right! There’s four people in this band!”
The duo, commercially known as Hall & Oates (although they themselves profess to dislike the catchy moniker, preferring instead to think of themselves as individual musicians rather than two heads of the same hydra), have certainly been no strangers to the spotlight since their debut in the 1970s, and is it any wonder? With a catalog of hits like “Rich Girl,” “Kiss on My List,” “Maneater,” and “You Make My Dreams,” to name just a few, it’s entirely unsurprising that they were easy inductees into the Songwriter Hall of Fame, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, even the Hollywood Walk of Fame, among countless other awards and accolades.
But amidst all these shining honors, the lion’s share of the limelight has gone to Hall, the frontman and lead vocalist whose golden mullet and winning smile draws the camera like a magnet. Oates, for some reason, seems perpetually relegated to a supporting role, crooning back-up vocals while holding it all down on guitar. Group shots, album covers, promotional material, he’s certainly there, given what by common sense should be his due prominence as an equal half of the Oates/Hall duo… but the glamor shots in all the music videos? The lingering close-ups projected up to towering heights on live concert stages for all the folks in the cheap seats to see? That’s when all the Daryl Hall fans in the audience are happy.
Now, though, it’s time to redress the balance: John Oates is getting center stage all for himself.
Coming to the Colonial Theatre Laconia on Friday, March 18 at 8:00 pm as part of a national tour, Oates is striking out on his own and headlining a solo show of hits from across several decades of musical excellence. Indeed, although some might not know it, many of Hall & Oates’ acclaimed Top 10 hits originated from the Oates side of the equation: no matter what the ensuing disproportion of closeups might have suggested, he can claim authorship of “Maneater,” “Adult Education,” “She’s Gone,” and “You Make My Dreams,” among others, and even sang lead vocals from time to time, most notably on “Possession Obsession” and Hall & Oates’ cover of the Righteous Brothers’ “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.”
Accompanied by featured partner Guthrie Trapp, the now-73 year old, very relaxed Oates will at last have thebanner treatment so richly deserved after all these years. He holds no ill-will against the more poster-friendly Hall, incidentally, and this solo tour is no way indicative of a parting of the ways. The duo sold out Madison Square Garden literally days before 2020’s nationwide shutdown, and according to Oates himself, the two have rarely if ever quarreled about a thing since their first meeting in the late 1960s (the infamous time when they jointly took refuge in a service elevator to escape a gang shoot-out during a Battle of the Bands-type playbill while they were both enrolled at Philadelphia’s Temple University). For all that, however, longtime fans of the pair and their music are in for a treat and a new experience altogether to witness Oates assume the starring role he’s often seemed so comfortable shirking off.
Tickets for John Oates and Guthrie Trapp at the Colonial Theatre Laconia on Friday, March 18 at 8:00 pm are $39 - $89, and are available now at www.coloniallaconia.com, or by calling 1 (800) 657- 8774.