Music Legend John Oates Electrifies with Inspired Performance [CONCERT REVIEW] @JohnOates

soulhead_JohnOates_MainImagePhoto Credit: Juan Patino

By Christopher A. Daniel | @Journalistorian

Music legend John Oates has taken his “Rock & Soul” sound back to basics. This particular chilly evening, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is performing like a troubadour at Eddie’s Attic in downtown Decatur, Ga, completely stripping down his melodic, soulful pop/rock past as one half of the massively successful duo Hall & Oates in favor of revisiting his love for roots music.

Oates recently performed two evening shows simultaneously at Eddie’s Attic, pouring his appreciation for Americana music and Delta blues into a 110-minute set. Long gone are both his signature thick mustache and the long, dark curly hair.

soulhead_JohnOates_Image1Photo Credit: DJ Blak Magic

The musician’s deep admiration for veteran blues musician Mississippi John Hurt laid an extraordinary template for the evening. Joking that he completely forgot his set list, Oates’ loyalty to his musical lineage gave his organic live show its refreshing ambiance. The New York-born hitmaker opened with “Stagger Lee,” “When Carolina Comes Home Again” (the first of several tunes he performed that were co-written along with Jim Lauderdale) and another Hurt cover “Spike Driver Blues.”

Percussionist Johnny “The Clock” Richardson and guitar virtuoso Guthrie Trapp joined Oates on-stage periodically, playing an array of bluegrass, folk, country, soul, and gospel tunes. Clearly embracing his comfortable element, an extremely interpersonal and delightful Oates kept reiterating how the intimate venue was a great place to perform.

soulhead_JohnOates_Image2Photo Credit: DJ Blak Magic

The end result was an infectious live music experience, full of cheers, handclapping flash mobs, an audience singalong, and some dancing. Oates, who graduated with a degree in journalism from Temple University, crooned with a tranquil and soothing essence. At the same time, the Philadelphia native who now lives between Colorado and Nashville belted out soulful, husky (sometimes breathy) wails to match his crisp plectrum strums caressing the strings.

Oates sat stage front the entire evening, emulating aVH-1 Storytellers-like format. He shared a few stories about working with a plethora of musicians and gave details about what inspired some of his songs. An architect for successful musical partnerships, Oates shared more songs he co-wrote with Lauderdale (the lush “Let Her Come to You”), Grammy-winning musician Keb’ Mo’ (the harmonically stellar “Edge of the World”), OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder (“Stone Cold Love”) and Nathan Paul Chapman (the inspirational “Pushing a Rock Uphill”).

soulhead_Hall&Oates_Image1Photo Credit: Mick Rock

Subsequent fillers during Oates’ performance were the moody “All I Am” and the romantic “Promise Ain’t Enough.” As to be expected, a few Hall and Oates classics were given a jam band treatment. “Maneater,” “You Make My Dreams,” and “Out of Touch” were all done with a boogie woogie flavor. “She’s Gone” closed the show as a one man encore. Oates reappeared for another encore: the spirited “Here Am I, Lord Send Me.”

Four decades into his storied career, Oates can still electrify a crowd and bring good feelings to music. What’s even more beautiful is seeing how the extraordinary musician still prides himself on delivering performances that both please his audience and pay homage to his musical forefathers.

EXPLORE John Oates’ Discography via Amazon | iTunes

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