We saw Sinead O'Connor the other night at the Strathmore in Bethesda, MD. She came out of retirement and released an album (I'm aging myself I suppose by saying "album" instead of "CD") called Theology this year. I don't own it but I'm going to buy it. It's a 2-disc release. The first disc called "The Dublin Sessions" is acoustic and the other disc ("The London Sessions") containes a plugged in multi-piece band version of the same songs. Visit http://www.sineadoconnor.com and Sinead O'Connor's MySpace page for more information and to listen to some clips.
Having never seen her live before, I thought the concert was very good but I was distracted by her constant hand-signal interaction with the sound man. She was having trouble with the drums being over mic'd at the start, once or twice with feedback in her earpiece during the show, her mic not being turned up quite enough, etc.
Her voice while still powerful and simultaneously sweet has a courser quality and lacks range at the high notes. But her delivery is haunting, vibrant, intense and interesting as always. My impression of her from her early career was that she approached music from internal rage and anger and now it seems to flow from inner beauty and peace. Even so she performed the oldies and goodies with verve with especially great renditions of "I Am Stretched on Your Grave" and "Thank You for Hearing Me". One of the highlights of the show was the acapella four-part harmony sung live of "In This Heart". I think she performed three new songs including one that is a movie theme song for a film that will be release around Christmas. All of the new work was gorgeous and soul satisfying. The mix of acoustic and full band songs kept it interesting and there was an obvious mutual appreciation between audience and artist.
Twenty years after the release of her first album, The Lion and the Cobra, Sinead O'Connor still defies definition: rock, pop, alternative, spiritual, rythmic, relevant, current... yes, yes, yes and more.
I suppose I should also say something about the Strathmore. I'd never been to this venue before but will seek it out in the future. In fact, Handel's Messiah is playing there in December and I would love to go to that. The hall is absolutely beautiful inside. The ceiling undulates like a gentle wave stopped in motion and the blond wood interior does everything it should acoustically in that space, not to mention creating a calming, modern and beautiful space. The walls and the shape of the hall made me feel what I imagine it would be like to be inside a grand piano. Go if you get a chance so you can feel for yourself what I mean by that because I can't explain it!