Review: Sinéad O'Connor, St Luke's, Old Street

By Rob Virtue on January 18, 2013 5:25 PM |

sinead.jpg

GIG
Sinéad O'Connor
LSO St Luke's, Old Street
★★★★★

IN A NUTSHELL
The Priestess of Pop is sublime in this intimate church setting, writes Russell Handy.

Sitting in a church may not sound like the best way to spend one of the coldest nights of the year.

But St Luke's, Old Street is no ordinary church. Deconsecrated, converted and heated, the 250 seater venue is now home to the London Symphony Orchestra and has hosted James Brown, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Tony Bennett and Tom Jones. So far, so male.

With its obelisk spire lit up in bright green, the emerald isle's most famous female was soon made to feel at home here.

The 46-year-old smoothly dealt with harmless hecklers, at one point breaking into a mockney rendition of Oliver! ditty, Consider Yourself for her 'Artful Dodger' in the audience. Playful throughout, each song in this two-hour set is immaculately performed.

Accompanied by Graham Henderson on keyboards and Robbie McIntosh on acoustic guitar, O'Connor, in a black Rastafari t-shirt, hits every note, her mic often redundant by her side. She claims to only know three guitar chords, but never loses her focus.

With the setlist made up mainly of songs from her latest album - her first studio album since 2007, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? - O'Connor's performance switches from angry to jovial to spiritual and sincere.

She dedicates I Am Stretched on Your Grave, from 1990 hit album I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, to those who died in this week's helicopter crash.

O'Connor may be famous for a certain early '90s cover (which we'll come to later). But it is another cover - of John Grant's Queen of Denmark - that raises a few early eyebrows.

Not just for Grant's explicit and cutting lyrics, but as proof of her immense vocal range. In a dilemma over dancing, O'Connor, who's recently been busking on the streets of Dublin with Bono, picks up the pace with foot-stomping new song 4th and Vine.

Yes, Nothing Compares 2 U is sublime and further evidence of O'Connor's deft delivery. But it is testament to the singer's range that tonight's show is thankfully not all about that song.

She ends the main set strumming The Last Day of Our Acquaintance, before returning to the stage to end the evening with Psalm 33 - a song of praise, she explains, for expectant fathers. Bigger London venues now await the priestess of pop.

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