Things were more dead than alive at the Palace on Tuesday night as Dead or Alive, yet another exotic bit of fauna from the British pop charts, made its local debut. Fronted by the incredibly campy Pete Burns, the English disco-tech dance- meisters were a bit short on the expected visual outrage and nonstop ecstatic dancing.
What one got was Burns and two less-than-mediocre dancers done up in '50s leather--muscle-boy style--moving as if they were auditioning for a porn rock-concert video. Burns, who may or may not have been singing live (only his mixing engineer knows for sure), did a few shimmies and shakes, tossed his hair a lot, admonished the crowd to dance (his only spoken contact with the audience) and pranced about in a scanty nylon thing, displaying his bum to the adoring throng, many of whom had paid nearly $20 and waited almost two hours for this rare viewing. P. T. Barnum was right.
Musically, the band has one song, one rhythm and several variations, such as its dance-hot "You Spin Me Round." It's not a bad groove, and Burns' low, growling vocals have as odd a character as his physical presence. But Dead or Alive's popularity has already peaked (its last album stiffed), and Tuesday's short set was too little, too late and totally half-baked.
The group was also scheduled to play the Palace on Wednesday, and returns for two Halloween shows on Saturday.