Reviewer: Donna Kelly
Alexander O’Neal’s heyday may have been in the 1980s but his extensive back catalogue and abilities as a live performer is still capable of drawing in the crowds.
The American singer-songwriter first shot to fame in the 1985 with hit single Saturday Love and has since released 14 UK top 40 singles including If You Were Here Tonight, Criticize, Saturday Love, (What Can I Say) To Make You Love Me and Fake ’88, along with eight studio albums, six compilation albums and one live album.
O’Neal’s latest tour 30 Years of Soul sees the soul and RnB legend perform his biggest hits at four venues across the UK including Edinburgh, Salford, London and Birmingham. O’Neal’s 90 minute set is more like a party than a concert, with the 62 year-old encouraging the audience to get up on their feet and dance the night away.
Dressed in a striking metallic blue suit and supported by a six-piece band and a trio of backing singers, the former Prince protégé delivers a slick show performing a mix of party numbers and soulful classics. The opening number Innocent quickly has the crowd on their feet, as does upbeat soul-pop numbers (What Can I Say) To Make You Love Me, What’s Missing and All True Man.
O’Neal is the best pure singer to come from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ 80s production stable and classics such as When the Party’s Over and Sunshine are rendered timeless by his gruff and warm vocal. In an unexpected addition to the set-list, the audience is also treated to surprise performance of Crying Overtime from the 1987 Hearsay album, a track which O’Neal hasn’t sung for 20 years.
Around 60 minutes into the set, O’Neal leaves the stage to freshen up, allowing his backing singers to take centre stage with a duet of Never Knew Love Like This, his 1987 hit with Cherrelle It isn’t long however before the soul icon is back up front, performing classics like Saturday Love, Hearsay ’89, A Broken Heart Can Mend, If You Were Here Tonight, What Is This Thing Called Love as well as My Gift to You, the title track from O’Neal’s first and only Christmas album.
Unsurprisingly, the encore of Criticize and Fake ’88 gets the biggest reception from the crowd, with O’Neal inviting members of the audience to join him on stage for the final two numbers.
Alexander O’Neal may be in his sixties but if 30 Years of Soul is anything to go by, the soul legend still has what it takes to entertain an audience. An enjoyable evening of party-pop classics and soulful numbers.
Reviewed on 12 December 2015 | Image: Contributed