It must be galling to be one of these artists with a hit that just won’t go away, despite a 25-year career. Mention Sinead O’Connor and people will generally respond with one song. But she has an extensive back catalogue of nine albums and dedicated fans, some of whom managed to get hold of tickets for the sold-out gig in the tiny Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall.
Admittedly, when Sinead uttered those famous opening lyrics of the Prince cover Nothing Compares 2U, it delighted everyone. To her credit, it didn’t feel old or contrived, it was just a memorable, beautiful song – so ingrained in the culture of a generation that it was a jolt to discover that it felt like a bit of a privilege to be hearing it performed live, up close.
It wasn’t the song that people came away humming though. That award goes to Thank You for Hearing Me, from the 1994 album Universal Mother, easily one of the highlights of the night.
It was almost uncomfortable to listen to the early numbers in the set – raw, vulnerable, often vitriolic songs that are as synonymous with Sinead as that unmistakeable, lilting Irish voice. When she performs it’s personal and intensely emotional, especially in such an intimate space. The gig stepped up a gear in the second half as she seemed to find her stride.
The set offered a balanced selection, including the terrific upbeat folk of 4th and Vine and the impassioned Take Off Your Shoes, both from her most recent album How About I Be Me (And You Be You). Older numbers also impressed, including a popular performance of Jackie from her 1987 debut album The Lion and the Cobra, and a mesmerising a cappella rendition of the Irish poem I Am Stretched on Your Grave.
Sinead O’Connor was warm, playful and easy with the audience, reading the room well. She’s nicely unpolished and everything is a bit rough round the edges, a bit ad-lib, but in a good way – in the way folk music should be. And you’re definitely in experienced hands.
For further information about Sinead O’Connor and future events visit here.
For future events at the Royal Albert Hall visit here.