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Sinéad O’Connor live at The Sugar Club, Dublin

Sinéad O’Connor unveils A New Kind Of Theology at The Sugar Club, Dublin.

Adrienne Murphy, 23 Nov 2006

When the invites went out, there was a huge sense of anticipation. The prospect of an intimate evening with Sinéad O’Connor, at which Ireland’s eminent female artist of the past 20 years would unveil the songs from her next album, was an intriguing one.

Any Sinéad gig is an event. But she’s the kind of artist that especially thrives in a small theatre environment like The Sugar Club. There are times when Sinéad literally whispers her vocals, so to be up close and personal with her makes a whole world of difference.

This was a special gig, in that what was on offer was a sneak preview of Theology, an album that won’t be launched until April 2007. But at this stage, the work on the record is done, and the birth of Sinéad’s fourth child set to take precedence in the singer’s life over the next six months or so.

Beautiful in a tight black-and-red, bump-revealing dress, Sinéad took the stage of Dublin’s Sugar Club with her usual bawdy grace. Sinéad likes to suck lemon between songs, an idiosyncrasy that lead to one particularly memorable line.

“I’m too fat to bend down,” she deadpanned, indicating that she needed help to reach a plate on the ground. “I’m afraid if I bend down I might get pregnant again. That’s how I got this way in the first place.”

Sitting simply with her acoustic guitar, the artist led us, spellbound, through nine deeply moving, uplifting, celebratory songs. She was accompanied brilliantly throughout by mandolin, violin, harp and tin whistle, with guitar played by the legendary Steve Cooney, director of operations and producer of the acoustic part of Sinéad’s new album.

Sinéad’s voice is sounding strong and pure and true. Her newly-penned material, unashamedly spiritual in nature, connects us to the deepest, safest, most peaceful, most comforting part of ourselves, marking in its surefootedness a renaissance in the singer’s songwriting abilities. It’s so refreshing, in songs like ‘Jeremiah/Something Beautiful’ and ‘Samuel/The Glory of Jah’, to hear an exploration of spiritual as opposed romantic love.

After sipping for an hour from this album’s cup, all at The Sugar Club were left anticipating with joy the chance to hear more. “The new songs sounded just gorgeous,” enthused RTÉ 2FM’s DJ Dan Hegarty after the show. “I absolutely loved them. A lot were fairly folk-based, but the whole reggae thing is there too, and she does that crossing of genres so well.”

Right now, there is the work – and the pleasure – of being a mother again to occupy Sinéad. But come the spring, it’ll be very interesting to watch the album take its place in the marketplace.

Roger Quail of Rubyworks, the label releasing Theology, was thrilled by Sinéad’s performance, which was recorded and filmed for later release.

“It was an amazing show from an incredible artist on a new creative high,” said Quail, “and a real privilege to see her so close-up and personal.”

And so say all of us…

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