Singing live to pre-recorded instrumental tracks might be an economical way to introduce performers from distant parts, but on Tuesday at the Palace the format was a mixed blessing for the three acts showcased by RCA Records.
The music often seemed thin and disembodied, and even when the sound was full, the experience seemed half-baked and artificial. It was especially disconcerting when a track suddenly began its fade and the singer didn't.
On Five Star's first song, even the vocals appeared to be mimed, suggesting that we were in for an evening of "Puttin' on the Hits"-style lip-syncing. Even after Deniece Pearson's switch to the live mike brought some vitality and immediacy to the music, the quintet seemed restricted by the format.
The English family vocal group was promising, but it has a long way to go before it makes good on a challenge to the memory of the Jackson 5. The two boys and two girls behind Deniece offered energetic, non-stop calisthenics, but there was nothing close to electrifying in the choreography. Songs like "All Fall Down" and "Hide and Seek" are bright, ornate little teen trifles that stick with you like nursery rhymes, and could form the foundation of a thriving career.