sat 20/07/2024

Sinéad O'Connor, Roundhouse | reviews, news & interviews

Sinéad O'Connor, Roundhouse

Sinéad O'Connor, Roundhouse

Songs from the new album hold their own against the back catalogue

She's not bossy, she's the boss

The cover of her new album, I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss, has Sinéad O’Connor sporting a black wig and latex dominatrix dress, a glammed-up guitar wrapped in her arms. Well, at least she made the effort. On stage at the Roundhouse she launched her fine new album sans latex or hair, in black t-shirt and trousers, still the shaven-headed siren of unbidden passions and complicated yearnings.

From "Nothing Compares" through to new songs such as the floor-pounding single "Take Me to Church", the lush "Vishnu Room", or the closing Tennessee Williams-referencing "Streetcars" – all of them strong additions to her catalogue – the overriding quality of her voice is that of great yearning: for a departed lover, for spiritual absolution, for a God that doesn’t come in black robes and frightening shoes, for the pleasures of the flesh and the sins of the blood. She looks physically tiny but she sings big. Cosmologists could learn a thing or two about inflation from the O’Connor lungs; they enclose the heart. They communicate, rather than show off.

She starts by dedicating the night to Robin Williams, and later sings a beautiful unaccompanied ballad for him and prefaces "Eight Good Reasons", from the new album, with the words: "It was a very bad decision Robin made. This is for anyone contemplating that choice, and I ask you not to." She's known for what we call "her demons", and you sense hers is a voice of experience.

After a heavy, scabrous "Harbour", "Nothing Compares 2 U" is a warm, slow blues, her six-piece band adeptly remoulding its new shape. The venue's sound is not so great, though it can't hold her back when she really opens her mouth. That astonishing strong voice has a power that can't be faked. It's got a root note, a basic authority. 

She does an on-stage costume change for the encore, standing with her back to us in a white bra, pulling on a T-shirt a fan had tossed on the stage, saying how she'd always wanted to do a costume change, and then she sings "Streetcar", just voice and keys, and after that it's a goodnight lullaby learnt, she says, from uncelibate monks in Ireland, who also taught her a few other things. You've got to take your hat, and your shirt off, to her. 

That astonishing strong voice has a power that can't be faked. It's got a root note, a basic authority


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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