ARCHIVE: Coming Back for Oates

(First published on Red Bank oRBit March 8, 2009)

303852234_964cd68f71_zIn “Brian the Bachelor,” a show that regularly places on most fans’ lists of favorite Family Guy episodes, Lois is seen in a flashback to her days as a plaster-casting rock groupie, crafting a backstage souvenir of her meet-’n-greet with a willing Daryl Hall. When Hall’s mustachioed musical partner John Oates enters the dressing room unexpectedly, Lois assures the shorter member of pop’s champion-selling duo that she’ll come back for him momentarily.

After Oates exits, she smiles slyly and whispers to Hall, “I’m not coming back for Oates!”

This is a needlessly negative, entirely inappropriate way to begin our appreciation of the Oat-man — and if you need to know, the moment can be found at around 6:55 in this linked clip.

Poor misunderstood Oates. Mocked from here to The Simpsons, where he formed part of a supergroup with fellow second bananas Garfunkel and Messina. Fully a head shorter than the golden-maned, top-billed Hall, who’s spared no opportunity to remind interviewers of how he is the acknowledged “leader” of the long-running act (in between continuing to rail against the way-dead Kurt Cobain for ruining music).

But John Oates is no Andrew Ridgely or even Alan Colmes. John Oates has been described as the “finisher,” the “details guy” of the duo, to Hall’s “starter” or “big picture” person. He’s stepped out front to take the lead on a number of songs, our favorite being “Africa” (they had us with that sax quote from “Soul Makossa”). There was also the admittedly rather jerky rendition of “Jingle Bell Rock,” and“Possession Obsession,” the one time he got to do a slick video for one of his songs (although Hall still tries to pull a head-games powerplay move, as he wrests the sugar dispenser from Oates at about 3:00).

The 70s porn ’stache may have fallen to the Wilkinson sword, but the act persists uninterrupted for over 40 years — and Friday night, Hall and Oates take it to the stage of Asbury’s Paramount Theatre for a special stop in their “Up Close and Personal Tour.” And for Oates — who bought into a condo project in the city in 2007  — it’s a chance at home field advantage.