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Alexander O'Neal
  Alexander O'Neal  
  Recommended (but don’t expect any new material!)
An entertaining night, but would be enhanced if you were unfamiliar with the artist.
 
Review
Alexander O'Neal @ Grand Opera House - York [December 5th, 2005]
 

The evening opened with support Artist Nat Augustin, who warmed everyone up with a wide range of George Benson classics, including ‘Turn Your Love Around’, ‘Shiver’, Never Give Up On A Good Thing’ and ‘Give Me The Night’. It was a good start, which got the audience in the mood for dancing. A class opening act and a lively opener to the night ahead… As the lights dimmed down, Soul Legend Alexander O’Neal came on stage (or is it Johnnie Ringo – his self-named nickname for that week, apparently he chooses a different one every week). The opening track was ‘Innocent’, with everyone cheering him as he came on stage. Followed by ‘What Can I Say To Make You Love Me’. I was thinking, ‘this doesn’t sound like Alexander’ and as I did, he got the soundman to turn down the bass from his voice and suddenly - all was good – he now sounded more like how I remembered. Then onto ‘Sunshine’, ‘Hearsay ‘89’, ‘The Lovers’ and ‘All True Man’. Sometimes, he sounded a little out of breath, especially in between songs and he constantly kept walking to the side of the stage, which became a little bit annoying as the night went on. Next section was called ‘Making S**t up’, where he sang about whatever came to him at the time. It sounded good and I really enjoyed this section, his voice sounding warmer and more contemporary. It’s a shame he didn’t do more of this during the show, as it would have been good to get the chance to hear a couple of new tracks. Alexander then asked a lady from the front row to join him on stage, as he poured out two glasses of champagne, which they both sipped, whilst he sang ‘If You Were Here Tonight’, as they sat on an aptly placed bench beneath a replica Victorian street lamp. Then onto ‘This Thing Called Love’, after which he asked people to join him on stage as he finished with a medley of songs (sweating profusely). The white towels, which were provided, got more than their fair share usage on the night! I couldn’t resist getting up, along with around 40 others and danced on stage until the show ended. The band was good and joined in with on-stage dancing and role- playing. They had a funky sound, with an elegant backing vocalist. The evening wasn’t quite what I expected. However it was a good night, I’m glad to have seen him and to have heard one my all time favourite tracks ‘If You Were Here Tonight’, live. Overall to see a Soul Legend like Alexander O’Neal was a great opportunity, although I got the feeling his career had taken a toll on him and I’m still suffering from the shock of how he is now, compared to what he was – quite different. I feel the addition of new material would bring him more up to date and improve his performance – a bit stuck in the past.

Tracey Cope [Just Soul]

Ola Onabule
  Ola Onabule  
  Highly Recommended!
Ola Onabule’s live gigs must not be missed. If you get the opportunity, support this hugely talented and popular Independent British Artist. You will not regret it!
 
Review
Ola Onabule @ The Square Chapel - Halifax [November 27th, 2005]
 

Before the gig, I spoke to people, asking if they had seen Ola before. Many had seen him on numerous occasions and others had not, but were aware of a strange excitement in the air. Ola’s opening track - ‘Alive Tonight’ was from his recent album ‘In Emergency, Brake Silence’. Unfortunately, it didn’t sound very alive, as the venue’s soundman, had got it wrong, causing a few problems for the band. However, Ola, wasted no time in guiding the soundman to what was required, involving the audience, asking what was wrong, creating a bit of banter with us and our demands for ‘more voice and less bass & drums’ were taken on board and the second track ‘Stay Here Forever’ sounded much better. The last song before the short break was a real masterpiece of a song called ‘Heart Of Lead’. Ola encouraging the audience to give some of their quotes for ending relationships after suggesting some himself like ‘I need to find myself’, ‘We can still remain friends’ and so on. This was sung with an ad-lib, showpiece ending and a different interpretation to the album - a refreshing twist. In between songs, Ola displayed his rather quirky sense of humour - indulging the audience at all times and making jokes and jibes with his band. The band was good and consisted of Nial Thompkins on guitar, Alex Bennet on keyboards, Neil Raymond on bass & Julian McLaren on drums. During the short interval, there was a real feel good atmosphere and everyone was eagerly awaiting the 2nd half to begin. I spoke to some of the folk there and they were more than impressed with Ola’s charisma & moves. The opener for the second half was ‘If You Knew What I knew’ from his ‘Precious Libations For Silent Gods’ CD. Then Ola turned up the funk and onto ‘Soul Town’. The next track being my particular favourite - ‘Forever Girl’. Ola leaving everyone mesmerised with this beautiful song – WOW! The final song ‘Closer’ extended into a medley of grooves getting people dancing with Ola encouraging everyone to get up on stage/asking us to rise from our seats and dance. We obliged. It was an infectious atmosphere. The gig ended to rapturous applause, a standing ovation & the audience demanding an encore. The encore wasn’t to be this time (he does usually do one & quite a few people were disappointed he didn’t), but Ola went to the side of the stage signing his CD’s and talking to his old and newfound friends. I managed to chat with him and he was a very gracious man whose presence off stage is quieter, confident and most appealing. All in all a scrumptious night, good venue and an outstanding entertainer. Not the best gig of Ola’s I’ve seen (maybe they were thinking of the long journey back to London that evening). However, I’m sure anyone who had not seen him before would have been well impressed - a pleasurable night out.

Tracey Cope [Just Soul]

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