The words “breathe, breathe, pray, breathe” were written in 10-inch letters at her feet. She wore sunglasses to help with her shyness. But if O’Connor was struggling with the pressure of being up on stage it didn’t show in her performance. Off-stage she may continue to suffer with her emotional well-being, but, on stage, she’s on the form of her life. Last night, her dense, swirling thoughts were projected through a combination of intensity, humour and vulnerability. It made for a superb evening.
O'Connor arrived on stage in combat trousers, a green army top and bobble hat. The tattoos on her arms, along with the sunglasses already mentioned gave her a kind of Big Issue chic. Yet, for all her eccentricity, Sinéad looked remarkably healthy. Her first words were about being a surprisingly nervous individual, for someone with such a “big fucking mouth”. They were echoed by the lyrics of the first song she performed, which spoke of “never having much self-confidence anyway”. Thereafter, though, she seemed nothing if not relaxed.
For some the most memorable moments seemed to be where Sinéad stood alone with her plainly-strummed guitar Throughout, O'Connor held the strikingly-diverse crowd rapt with her powerful sense of conviction and that instantly-recognizable voice. People speak of its cathartic quality but last night wasn’t just about being anguished or haunted. “4th and Vine”was jaunty and celebratory; “The Wolf is Getting Married” was straight pop; and “The Emperor’s New Clothes” got the front rows up dancing (interestingly with the middle-aged men standing up first).