Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Sinead O'Connor at the Royal Festival Hall

On Tuesday I went to see Sinead O'Connor at the Royal Festival Hall. The show was billed as 'Sinead O'Connor's Christmas Show' so I had no idea what to expect but it turned out to be a Sinead gig rather than anything particularly Christmassy.

I'm not really a Sinead O'Connor fan. If you'd asked me about her a few months back I would have said I actually only have two of her songs - 'Silent Night' and 'Nothing Compares 2 U' (on an 80s compilation). But then I found a shoe box full of tapes and discovered I'd actually bought her first two albums on cassette. To have two albums suggests I liked the first one enough to buy the second. So, when I saw the gig advertised I thought 'why not?'. And I'm pleased I did.

Strolling on stage in combat trousers and a khaki hoody she proceeded to swear within the first 30 seconds and then put on some sunglasses because she's shy and they help to hide the audience. And then she opened that gob of hers.

Obviously she's got a great voice and great control - anyone that's heard 'Nothing Compares 2 U' knows that - but it was the effortlessness, the abandon, the sheer what you see is what you get and tonight I might be good or bad-ness of it all was what surprised me. Some singers are just natural - they open their mouths and you get whatever they can give on that occasion - and Sinead is clearly one of those. I've said the same about Amanda Palmer, a great natural talent, not studied or manufactured, and even on a bad night (does AFP have bad nights?) is still worth listening to. Amanda sung 'Black Boys On Mopeds' - one of Sinead's songs - a few years ago at the British Library gig.

I wasn't familiar with most of the songs Sinead sang, sometimes playing guitar, so I could sit back and listen. The sound mix was a bit dirty in places but worked as an artist going out there and just playing. Raucous rock, skunking reggae and some songs with her voice and sometimes her voice and her backing singers (who were also her guitarists - she was backed by a five piece band). Her big global hit - 'Nothing Compares 2 U' - was played halfway through the set rather than as the encore which seems typical of Ms O'Connor but, in a way, it was also nice to get it out of the way so that she can play on without knowing that song lies ahead.

She gave us a nice selection of songs and I particularly liked 'Queen Of Denmark', '4th & Vine', 'Fire On Babylon' and 'Last Day of Our Acquaintance' with the encore songs of 'V.I.P.' and 'Black Boys On Mopeds'. And 'Nothing Compares' of course.

I'm pleased that I've now seen Sinead play live and I'm pleased to discover that I have almost her whole back catalogue to explore. Thanks Sinead, you have a new fan!

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