Punch Records US' Harriet Kaplan catches up with John Oates.
"I heard this is the best place to perform in Los Angeles,” John Oates said smiling from the stage of Hotel Cafe. His positive endorsement was met with wild applause and cheering from the capacity crowd last Friday night. Oates also said he’ll be back to perform there again when he was in town.
Photo courtesy of Mike Cavanaugh
This scaled down, intimate show demonstrated Oates is very much at home and at ease playing in this smaller setting. On tour supporting his most current release, “Another Good Road,” which was the focus of the hour-and-a-half set, the R&B/soul/blues/pop singer showed he was not interested in reliving the past but he did go back occasionally and retool some of Hall & Oates “greatest” hits with an entirely different flavor. “Maneater” and “Out of Touch” were recipients of that eclectic treatment. He also sang "She's Gone" and "Change of Season." The later featured a guest keyboardist Jeb Lieber, son of Jerry Lieber. On each song, including his latest material, came with a personal story and reflection on a different place and time in Oates’ career. He also spoke about his inspiration for song ideas with regard to the new material on “Another Good Road.” Oates travels over a wider musical terrain exploring Americana, Delta blues and folk styles. Over 15 songs were performed and the highlights included "Let's Drive," "Close," "Camelia," "Crown," and "Mississippi Road."
Oates is not only an excellent singer and guitarist with masterful skills but a wonderful all-around entertainer. He knows how to work the crowd and keep them engaged and interested throughout. Each supporting player including guitarist Shane Theriot, bassist Michael Jude, keyboardist Kevin McKendree, John Michel on drums and Wendy Moten on background vocals further complimented Oates with a similar level of high-caliber musicianship and dynamics. They seem to be having a lot of fun. The group exhibited a playful chemistry between one another on onstage. The band injected their own unique personalities into the set and that made for a good time.