As strange as this sounds, the wife and I went to see Oates in concert last nigh.
Not Hall & Oates.
For those of you far from the know, Oates is the guy with the mustache. Well, he used to have the mustache. Now he just has a little triange soul patch below his bottom lip. Though Hall & Oates are known as Hall & Oates, Oates mostly stands in the background, playing guiter, oohinh and aahing, taking lead on two or three tunes per show (Possession Obsession is probably his biggest lead vocal H&O song, which tells you something). He has a nice, pleasant voice, and is supposedly a top-rate guitarist.
Anyhow, we paid $40 a ticket to see Oates perform solo at the Landmark on Main Street, a converted elementary school auditorium that now passes as a club in Port Washington, N.Y. The place is famous for not being famous, and its recent lineup attests to such: Buckwheat Zydeco, Shawn Colvin, The Smithereens, They Might Be Giants. If you’re an act that had a nibble of success in the 1990s, here’s the place for you.
I digress. Oates took the stage after an insanely fantastic opening act named Mutlu, and he was … well … eh … Oates. Not great. Not bad. Sorta OK. Sang a bunch of Hall & Oates songs, which doesn’t really work because—in Hall & Oates—he doesn’t actually sing Hall & Oates songs. Hence, to hear him take lead on Maneater or Out of Touch is no different than hearing any ol’ guy cover the tunes. Also, it felt like he was going through the motions. Not that I can blame him—Maneater for the 200,214,216th time would rot my soul, too.
Oates improved toward the end, when he started playing songs from his new album. It’s a collection of soul classics, and the man’s passion was much more evident here. Oates can actually bely, especially when the material has blues and soul elements to it.
Final thought: When we walked in, the wife said, “We’re gonna be the youngest people in here by 20 years.” I disagreed. But she was right. It was like a friggin’ home for the aged.
Which made me feel young.