Sinead Live review with John (MD and Drums) The Telegraph 5*

Posted on Dec 11, 2013 in News

Sinead Live review with John (MD and Drums) The Telegraph 5*

Dressed in a military green top, battered boots and camouflage combat pants Sinead O’Connor stepped onto the stage of the Royal Festival Hall dressed to kill. She may have looked fierce but she was, she told us, too shy to be able to sing unless she was wearing sunglasses that blocked out the audience. That endearing and intriguing blend of strength and vulnerability has run throughout O’Connor’s music and life, and both were on display here. “Who’s gonna be the one to save me from myself?” she asked on the opening number, a cover of John Grant’s Queen of Denmark.

In recent years O’Connor has attracted headlines more for her battles with mental illness, tweets suggesting she was close to suicide and a recent spat with Miley Cyrus than her music. So it is hugely heartening to be able to report that, as a singer, Sinead O’Connor remains mesmerising. She didn’t move around much: mostly she stood behind the microphone, occasionally stamping her feet and raising her hands but when you have a voice as bone-chillingly beautiful as O’Connor’s you don’t need to lick wrecking balls to gain attention.

4th and Vine chugged and rolled like an old steam train punctuated by Graham Kearns’s guitar, John Reynolds’s menacing drumwork enhanced Take off Your Shoes and Brooke Supple’s delicate acoustic guitar adorned a harrowing Reason with Me.

When O’Connor sang “I don’t want to waste the life that God gave me, and I don’t think that it’s too late to save me”, it was impossible to hear those words and not think about her mental breakdown. I turned round to see my wife, shiny tears were streaming down her face. Nothing Compares 2 U retained its power despite the familiarity, O’Connor sounding as desperate as she did all those years ago.

It wasn’t all traumatising, however: the reggae bassline of Fire on Babylon and a raucous The Emperor’s New Clothes got people dancing. But the moments that I remember most strongly were darker and quieter: an acapella I Am Stretched On Your Grave dedicated to Nelson Mandela and, most powerful of all, a grief stricken In This Heart, with O’Connor standing between band members Brooke Supple and Clare Kenny, the Royal Festival Hall filled with the sound of their voices as they sang “soon these tears will have cried, all loneliness have died.