Vanilla Ice runs cold at Arena MUSIC REVIEW

April 01, 1991|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

Vanilla Ice is a surprising performer.

surprised the rap community by pushing M. C. Hammer off the top of the album charts. He surprised radio by being the first rapper with a No. 1 single. He surprised the record industry by selling 8 million albums in four months.

His performance at the Baltimore Arena last night was surprising, too. But not for the reasons you'd think.

For instance, you might have thought that someone who sold as many records as Ice would have had no trouble packing the house. Surprise! -- the arena was barely two-thirds full.

You also might have imagined that, as the country's best-selling rapper, Ice would have been a monster on the microphone. Guess again. For the most part, his delivery was passionless and perfunctory, and on a couple numbers -- "Satisfaction" and the ironically titled "Ice Is Workin' It" -- he let cohort D J Earthquake do most of the talking.

Perhaps the only thing about his show that didn't come as a surprise was the amount of time devoted to getting the fans to move around and make noise. First there was five minutes of "Wave your hands in the air." Then came the this-side-of-the-crowd-is-louder-than-that-side routine. And for the encore, the obligatory "Ice won't come out unless you make some noise" bit.

Truth is, Vanilla Ice isn't a rapper. He's the highest-paid cheerleader in America.

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