Nothing compares to first hometown gig in five years for shy Sinead
When singer Sinead O'Connor took to the stage in her hometown for her first Irish gig in five years, it was worth the wait.
Eight albums and 25 years into her recording career, the 44-year-old 'Nothing Compares 2 U' singer chose the seafront bandstand in Bray, Co Wicklow, just yards from her front door, for her Irish comeback.
Guesting with reggae artist Natty Wailer, she used the occasion to perform several reggae covers.
And her verdict after the night's gig?
"I really enjoyed it," she said afterwards. "I've been here in Bray for five years and have always been a bit jealous of bands I've seen here. It's everyone's childhood dream to play on a bandstand," she said.
O'Connor, who last month won rave reviews for a series of concerts she performed in Manchester, used Saturday night's informal set as a "warm-up" for her appearance at next month's Electric Picnic festival in Stradbally where she will be backed by a full band.
She had seen her friend Damien Dempsey play the same Bray venue just a week before, and then she and Natty came up with the idea to work together.
Dressed in a modest black trouser suit, with a large crucifix around her neck, O'Connor seemed almost shy.
She switched the microphones around and took a less prominent position on stage alongside two other backing singers.
A small crowd grew larger as Natty drove through hits like 'Stir it Up', 'Is This Love' and 'Could You Be Love'.
By the middle of the third number, it was obvious that there was a star on stage.
Any initial nerves seemed to have melted away, and O'Connor's unmistakable voice could be heard clearly, harmonising beautifully with the other two female singers.
Some couples danced in the moonlight in front of the iconic seafront bandstand.
The arrangements were hastily put together, with just a few days of rehearsal, and O'Connor missed her cue on a couple of occasions, but nobody seemed to notice or care.
A huge roar went up from the audience when Wailer called on the singer to take the lead, which she did on a number of songs, including 'War and Vampires', before re-joining the Hammond sisters Karen and Aoife for 'No Woman No Cry'.
The grand finale on the night, with the crowd calling for more, was a rousing version of 'Get Up Stand Up'.