MUSIC – Alexander O’Neal at Fringe by the Sea

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By MICHAEL RUSSELL [star rating = 4/5]

American RnB legend and singer-songwriter Alexander O’Neal had a pit stop at the Fringe by the Sea in North Berwick. 

In a packed circus tent by the Harbour, O’Neal shows what a showman he is – and that at the age of 65 is far from losing his amazing voice, which booms out across the venue. 

‘We’re gonna play some songs from Hearsay’ says Alexander O’Neal, big, in a hat with forehead-mopping hanky at the ready.

The energy of O’Neal and his band along with the encouragement to get everyone up on their feet ensures a party atmosphere in the venue. 

O’Neal came to prominence in the mid-1980s as a solo artist, going on to release 14 singles that entered the UK Top 40 over two decades. 

The soul man belts out many of these including ‘If You Were Here Tonight’, ‘Fake’, ‘Criticize’, and dedicates ‘Sunshine’ to the ladies.

His voice is 5 star and extremely distinctive, but I have to give the show a 4 star rating. 

The is due to the length of time the great man spends on stage; billed as a 9pm-10pm (60mins); he arrived on stage at 9:05pm and departed at 9:50pm (45mins) and left his band to play another tune without vocal accompaniment.

During his last song and many of the audience’s favourite, ‘Criticize’, it seems quite appropriate to comment that inviting the audience on stage to sing and dance with him spoiled the vocal experience – although it did bring joy to many of his ageing fans who took full advantage of the opportunity to get very close to him. 

A set twice as long would have been more fitting for the price. Nevertheless, it is truly great to see the legend on the music scene – and now that he lives in Manchester (since 2017) UK fans may be lucky enough to see him roll into a town near them soon.