Music Review: Alexander O’Neal THE RESURRECTED TOUR – The Lowry, Salford

Alexander ONeal The Resurrected Tour

THE RESURRECTED TOUR sees Alexander O’Neal perform hits from his extensive back catalogue as well as tracks from his new studio album

To mark the release of his first studio album in 15 years, R&B artist Alexander O’Neal takes to the stage for a new UK tour, playing tracks from his new album RESURRECTED as well as hits from his extensive back catalogue.

First rising to prominence as a solo artist in the 1980s, Alexander O’Neal is a successful R&B and soul singer. During the 80s and 90s, O’Neal released 14 Top 40 UK singles including IF YOU WERE HERE TONIGHT, FAKE, CRITICIZE, LOVE MAKES NO SENSE and IN THE MIDDLE. Last year also saw the American singer/songwriter release a re-recording of his million-selling 1987 album HEARSAY.

Bounding onto the stage in a crisp white shirt, black pants and a sequined black jacket, it’s clear from the outset that O’Neal remains as popular as ever. Jumping straight into his 1988 hit (WHAT CAN I SAY) TO MAKE YOU LOVE ME, O’Neal is welcomed by loud screams and whistles from the audience, who remain on their feet for follow-up numbers ALL TRUE MAN, THE LOVERS and SUNSHINE.

With a music career spanning more than 40 years, O’Neal certainly knows how to work an audience, keeping the energy high with back-to-back tracks from his hit selling album HEARSAY, as well as duet NEVER KNEW LOVE LIKE THIS, a track originally recorded with R&B singer Cherrelle. A few tracks from his new album RESURRECTED are also thrown into the mix. Due for release this autumn, RESURRECTED sees O’Neal make a move away from his usual R&B to a more bluesy, soulful sound which matches the undeniable maturity of his voice.

At the tender age of 64, O’Neal shows no signs of slowing down. Working the stage and interacting with the audience, O’Neal is in high spirits from start to finish, busting out a few dance moves despite being a little unsteady on his feet. His voice is also still a thing of power as he belts out hits like IF YOU WERE HERE TONIGHT and LOVE MAKES NO SENSE seemingly with ease.

Yet, despite his enthusiasm, there is a feeling that O’Neal is a little over-reliant on his nine-piece band. Lithe and skilled, the band take much of the strain, allowing O’Neal to play to the crowd and sit back when required. At one point, O’Neal leaves the stage for a costume change, leaving his backing singers to take the spotlight to perform a track from their upcoming album, as well as a tribute to Prince with a cover of I FEEL FOR YOU, a track made famous by R&B singer Chaka Khan. Here, the band and singers are superb but are not really who the audience has paid to see.

The overall structure of THE RESURRECTED TOUR also seems a little unpolished. O’Neal is quick to point out that they are going to ‘take their time’ and ‘go with the flow’ but as he shouts out instructions to his band, as well as the backstage team, it all seems a little rough around the edges. Add to this some sound issues including a lot of feedback on O’Neal’s mic and you get the distinct feeling that O’Neal has not quite found his groove yet with this tour.

That said, the music remains as popular as ever, with the stellar CRITICIZE and FAKE standing out in particular for their sheer energy and enthusiasm, closing an otherwise successful night for the accomplished R&B star.

3.5 out of 5 stars

Alexander O’Neal performed at The Lowry on 7 April 2018