I saw Sinead O’Connor at The Opera House recently and her voice was in fine form, her band was firing and she was adorable in her shyness. I’ve been a long term Sinead fan and her breakthrough album ‘The Lion and the Cobra’ remains in my personal top 10 Albums of All Time. I know from overheard pre-show conversations that some of the audience this night were there purely because of her worldwide smash hit ‘Nothing Compares 2U’. Rolling Stone rated that tune in one of their lists of the 500 Best Songs of All Time.
Now I love hearing an artist’s new material and of course a concert is always going to promote a current album, but I’m sorry, it is not your work post-1991 that allowed you to sell out this concert hall. And yes you are an artist and must do what inspires you in the now, but don’t you think you have an obligation to play at least some of the songs that brought you here and now? I loved your gentle monk’s chant and the never-heard-before acapella performances you gave us. I understand why you are sick of singing the Prince cover that made you really famous, but where was ‘Jerusalem’, ‘Mandinka’ or ‘Jackie’ – nothing from that magical first album?! We did get ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ but with a concert clocked at just over an hour, and devoid of almost any of the truly famous, popular songs, the show was actually a case of emperor’s new clothes with so much promised but little delivered.
I saw Neneh Cherry on the same stage a week before (she played for two hours). Her album ‘Man’ sits right next to Sinead’s on that list of mine. Neneh started this show playing a lot of tunes from her new album. She then reached down, picked up a piece of fabric, tied it around her head like she used to do in her early career and said something like ‘I want to live in the now but let’s go old skool for a while’. She proceeded to pepper hits like ‘Woman’, ‘Man Child’ and of course the big one, ‘Buffalo Stance’ throughout the remainder of the set, taking the turban on and off as she went back and forth in time. Now that’s more like it! The versions she did of these hits weren’t exactly the same as when they were released – she managed to stay in ‘the now’ while incorporating her history and pleasing her fans at the same time. And when I say ‘pleasing’, the crowd leaving the Opera House at the end of Neneh’s show rode a cloud of exhiliration and inspiration whereas that leaving Sinead’s was definitely underwhelmed. Can you imagine an Eagles show without ‘Hotel California’? Led Zeppelin without ‘Stairway to Heaven’? Fleetwood Mac without ‘Go Your Own Way’? Is crowd pleasing so bad? I think it’s part of your job… our job as performers and artists.
Till next time,
And since she didn’t play it, I will: Jackie
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