Sinead O’Connor performed in Vicar Street on Sunday night – the fifth night of her 2019 Irish tour, and her first in her hometown of Dublin. I was in attendance, having hauled my old bones from bed early on the morning the day the tickets went on sale, to ensure I got one. Some people had said there was no need to be so keen, as surely it would be easy to access tickets. I knew otherwise. Having seen her on three previous occasions (twice in Paradiso Amsterdam and once in Melkweg Amsterdam) I knew that these tickets would be like gold dust. Anyone who has witnessed Sinead live previously would be back for a repeat performance. Of this I was sure.
For a certain group of people Sinead is the voice of a generation. For outsiders and geeks; loners and freaks, her voice has always been a siren call. She was never a safe presence in the Ireland of my schooldays. The bald woman whose beautiful voice symbolised a rage against the system, for the people in the shadows – the forgotten children abandoned by the state and abused by the priests; the women forced to take the boat to England because Ireland regarded them as second class citizens; the gay people who’d fled Ireland for more welcoming climes. She wasn’t an easy presence for trans-Atlantic chat shows either, after roaring ‘fight the real enemy’ while tearing up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live in 1992, at the end of her acapella version of Bob Marley’s ‘War’. While it derailed her commercial career in the USA, she was in fact a prophet. Her protest against child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church came before the industrial scale abuse within the church became known.
I’ve always loved her. Her voice is pure and strong. She is a towering presence in Irish life – an absolute icon for anyone on the fringes; or for anyone who respects musical talent.
The love in the room in Vicar Street was palpable. The sold out venue was on tenterhooks – all of us willing her to do well. When she appeared onstage the room erupted in a volcano of love for her.
She gave an absolutely spectacular show – spellbinding, mesmerising, and utterly wonderful.
Her voice is as beautiful and as powerful as ever.
By her mere presence she gave the audience what they were looking for. But then came the songs to blow the roof off the house. She opened with the rageful cover version of ‘Queen of Denmark’ by John Grant. The rest is a bit of a blur – I was absolutely hypnotised. A personal favourite for this committed atheist was ‘Take me to church’. So many classic songs – ‘The wolf is getting married’; ‘Black boys on mopeds’; ‘I am stretched on your grave’; ‘Thank you for hearing me’; ‘The emperor’s new clothes’; ‘Nothing compares 2U’; ‘Three babies’.
I am well capable of enjoying a concert – and I often do. Rarely however is a gig such a moving event. Sinead O’Connor is a national fucking treasure.
Sinead O’Connor was unspeakably brilliant. I only wish I’d bought tickets to see her again this coming Friday in Limerick.