Alexander O’Neal, ABC Glasgow, review: Gritty grooves from a soul survivor

The 61-year-old from Mississippi delivered a slick show

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The festive season is not a time for kicking back for the Mississippi-born Eighties soul survivor Alexander O’Neal.

For the second year running his decision to spend the seasonal period touring the UK appears to have been vindicated, at least on the evidence of the four-figure crowd packed into the Glasgow ABC’s main hall. His commercial recorded peak has long since passed, but his back catalogue repertoire and his abilities as a live performer are enough to still draw crowds.

The 61-year-old former Prince protégé delivered a slick show, and yet it benefited from a more raw sound than the Jam and Lewis-produced originals might have promised. Dressed all in black and surrounded by a five-piece band and a trio of backing singers (one of whom deputised for his former duet partner Cherrelle), his forays into smooth balladeering seemed the most dated.

Instead, it was the bright, upbeat soul-pop of “All True Man”, “Saturday Love” and “Criticize”, which were rendered timeless by the gruff warmth of O’Neal’s strong vocal and the urgency of his live musicians. The closing sweaty call-and-response “wind it up” coda of “Fake” harked yet further back to the funk progenitors the singer grew up with.