Gig review – Alexander O’Neal

Alexander O’Neal, Glasgow SSE Armadillo, April 6 2018

‘How ya doin’ tonight?’ asks the soul legend as he bounds on stage. Well, apart from having endured the worst support act I have ever seen, I’m pretty excited to be here to see someone whose music I first fell for as a child, and who I even got to interview a few days previously. So, pretty good, thanks.

‘We’re gonna have a party tonight!’ he tells us, and with that he’s into a pretty amazing four strong set of ‘Love Makes No Sense,’ ‘All True Man,’ ‘The Lovers’ and ‘Hearsay.’ While some artists feel the need to push less well known works on their audiences, Mr. O’Neal recognises that his second album, 1987’s Hearsay album, is what he’s best known for. Indeed, this album (re-booted last year as Hearsay30) provides the bulk of his set tonight.

He’s backed by a nine-piece band, including the vocalist Ravena, who takes the place of Cherelle on two of the hits they had as a duo ‘Saturday Love’ and ‘Never Knew Love Like This.’ The crowd are ecstatic, and even when our hero disappears for a couple of songs, they keep the momentum going, not least with a cover of Prince’s ‘I Feel For You.’ ‘If You Were Here Tonight’ his first solo hit keeps him going, but within a couple of a capella notes of ‘Criticize’ (still his biggest UK hit, and nothing wrong with that, by the way) they go mental. It’s a fantastic way to finish the first set. The encore is, of course, ‘Fake’ – an extended version that brings almost everyone to their feet.

Much has been written over the years about O’Neal, but the reality is, he would never have been as big a star as he became without the music. There’s no need to rehash those who he has been (endlessly) compared to along the way: he’s a survivor, a legend and still putting on a show.

Respect is due.

 

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