FIRST, LET IT BE SAID that attending a Vanilla Ice concert with a pen and a pad isn't the easiest assignment.
The first thing necessary is to be an impartial critic, remaining fair to what you're hearing and seeing and forgetting what upset you months earlier when you heard the record, which in this case happens to be the thrice-platinum, No. 1 seller "To The Extreme."
The best we could do as we headed to the Baltimore Arena last night was to try to find a touch of positive light in a sea of talent darkness.
But after watching Ice and his six cohorts strut their stuff for a little more than an hour, the only equitable assessment would be to say that it wasn't nearly as bad as you might think.
Oh sure, there were moments when it was nothing short of awful. Ice's absurd raps like "Go white boy go" and "Yeaaah, boyieee" took on the campy look of idiocy. The volume was piercingly loud, bordering on distortion. The big bass beat became monotonous almost before he took the stage.
But in the most optimistic sense, there was a minimal level of entertainment value to be found here.
Give Ice some credit. At least he didn't rip off his old riffs and simply rework the "Ice Ice Baby" video into a 75-minute stage show.
Instead, he offered souped-up (and sometimes X-rated) versions of material from his album, while wisely sticking to crowd-pleasing banter and dancing.
He groomed his patented pompadour. He did the Iceman pose. He even allowed the crowd to sing the entire chorus of "Ice Ice Baby" a capella while he did his video dance on the right speaker.
Sporting an uncharacteristic aqua blue top and a set of white overall shorts, which incidentally had terrific artwork of his face etched on the left thigh, Ice didn't even look the part of the MTV star.
Although his live version of "Ice Ice Baby" (which followed the crowd sing-along) wasn't nearly as infectious as its studio version is on the dance floor, Ice made the most of the Arena setting by shouting out the rhyme and relying on his four-man dance team to ask the questions in the lyrics.
On the last night of the "To The Extreme" world tour, Ice and his two opening acts, The Party and Riff, did offer a special feel to the show.
For "I Love You," the obligatory and all-too-sappy ballad, Ice was joined by the members of Riff, a fabulous five-man, soul-drenched harmony section from Paterson, N.J., that was made famous during a scene in the movie "Lean On Me." It made an otherwise forgettable song the highlight of the show.
During the encore, the casts from all three acts came on for some impromptu rapping and to thank the fans and the road crew for their work in putting the production together.