Sinéad O'Connor marches to her own muse
Avalon, Boston, Dec. 5, 2005
By Jeffrey B. Remz
BOSTON - If expecting Sinéad O'Connor to delve back into her catalogue for such hits as "Nothing Compares 2 U," fans would have been sorely disappointed. With her new disc "Throw Down Your Arms," out in October, the Irish singer, who has certainly had a good sized list of well-documented, sometimes very bizarre ups and downs, took a very different tact with a full-fledged reggae show.
That may not have been the best career move given that she has not toured the U.S. for about five years and built her career on a different kind of sound.
But except for one fan among the 1,000 or so (far from sold out ballroom) yelling out at one point to play some old material, O'Connor stuck to her guns.
And truth be told, while not a perfect concert, O'Connor put on a convincing show to show she is no mere dilettante.
Not did she quickly pass through as she spent a good 110 minutes up on the stage generally putting her heart into each and every song.
O'Connor was not afraid to share the limelight either. She didn't rely on some lame back-up band. Nope, she used Sly and Robbie, perhaps the greatest reggae players. Shakespeare often set the rhythms on bass song after song, while Dunbar took care of the drumming.
Several times throughout the show, O'Connor shifted gears by dispensing with the full band and singing accompanied by an acoustic guitarist.
And in the most exciting and upbeat part of the entire show, O'Connor brought up Jawara Tosh, the son of late reggae great Peter, on stage for their take on Peter's hit 'Dangerous" during the encore. Jawara Tosh showed tremendous skill and brought the energy level higher.
O'Connor's voice was very husky (maybe she was under the weather a bit?) and she could have been amped up higher, something she apparently tried to do numerous times without great success. But her voice remains a powerful instrument.
She is not the greatest at making conversation, and, in fact, at one point, said how she looked down at the stage because she is a "very shy" person. But she showed sufficient good will, talk enough and enjoyed herself enough to not be labeled as a cold, distant performer either.
O'Connor has been through a lot in her career, not all of it obviously good. With the new album and her performance, O'Connor deserves credit for marching to her own muse and making it work. Whether her fans will follow could be a different story.