Sinéad O’Connor, The Dome, Brighton | reviews, news & interviews
Sinéad O’Connor, The Dome, Brighton
Sinéad O’Connor, The Dome, Brighton
The iconoclastic Irish singer remains a must-see in concert
“Uncensored” is the word that best describes Sinéad O’Connor onstage. Even when she’s singing a less-than-great number she remains fascinating. Where most perform, she just is, in the most naked and mesmeric fashion. There’s stage-craft involved, of course, but she really does seem to be in the moment, prancing and pixie-ing barefoot on a carpet that she always has for shows.
I’ve seen a couple of different Sinéads since I first became a convert a couple of years back. One was a damaged-looking biker chick, on the release of her latest album How About I Be Me (And You Be You) early in 2012, just prior to her last bi-polar breakdown; the other was a return to the shiny, witty pop star of yore, performing acoustically earlier this year. Today’s Sinéad, however, is a bit of both, a black-leather sprite whose shades come off only at the very end of the concert, a prancing, Hobbit-ish creature, jerking hither and thither, a large wooden crucifix swinging from her neck.
Her conviction carries her though right to the end of the night, and us with her
I intend no ridicule. Great performances are not about adhering to normal concerns, they’re about taking us away, dragging us off on a trip, and she certainly does that. Flanked by a female bassist and guitarist, she begins with a trio from How About I Be Me…, John Grant’s visceral, anguished sneer at useless muppet boyfriends/girlfriends, "Queen of Denmark", the jolly love song “4th and Vine”, and one of the best songs she’s ever written, the desperate junkie/love ode, “Reason With Me”, delivered to send shivers up the spine. The concert is beset by irritating technical problems, which O’Connor continuously tries to address, giving instructions left, right and centre. Notably, the power of the a cappella showcase, "I Am Stretched On Your Grave", is somewhat lessened by an audible buzz and slivers of feedback. Happily the other pared-back vocal piece, “Thank You For Hearing Me”, from 1994’s Universal Mother album, is a success, with O’Connor joined by her female sideswomen in lush harmony.
The venue is noticeably jammed with O’Connor’s lesbian fanbase and there are occasional cries for her to lose her jacket and even other clothes. When she does eventually remove her sunglasses a ripple of applause breaks out. This is all an amusing aside that she plays to but the show is really about her extraordinary voice, from a sparse country-tinged take on “Nothing Compares 2 U” to the brutal, coruscating, biographical rocker, “Emperor’s New Clothes”, assessing the way fame at a young age damaged her.
With her interest in theology, from Catholicism to Rastafarianism, there are occasions when it feels like we’re witnesses to a very personal religious testimonial, especially when, for the encore, she sings the Spartan anti-celeb diatribe, “V.I.P.”, possibly a dig at Bono. In it she compares the banal contemporary obsession with celebrity to “the face that never was nor will be kissed” and ends in a whispered prayer in a way few could get away with. She closes, as she often does, with the song she claims is the best she’s ever written, the Rasta hymn, “Psalm 33”. It is by no means her greatest work but that doesn’t matter. Her conviction carries her though right to the end of the night, and us with her.
Watch the video for "4th and Vine"
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