national concert hall, dublin
Sinead O'Connor gets into the papers for a lot of reasons. Too often than not, her voice and remarkable talent don't get a mention.
When the shaven-headed chanteuse stuns the Concert Hall into reverential silence during a stirring a-capella rendition of 'I Am Stretched On Your Grave', it is powerfully evident just how colossal that talent is.
Many pop and rock artists use a performance in the Concert Hall as an opportunity to reinterpret their work with an orchestra or string quartet. O'Connor treats it as just another show with a straightforward backing band, but what a hell of a show it is.
Opening with John Grant's 'Queen of Denmark', the evening instantly assumes a magical, otherworldly quality. The acclaimed American singer is a devout Sinead O'Connor fan who has repeatedly cited O'Connor as an instrumental source of inspiration. When Grant played Vicar St in May, Sinead joined him for three songs. She has also been a regular guest vocalist at Damien Dempsey's shows over the years.
But there are no special guests hovering in the wings tonight, and there's absolutely no need for any.
O'Connor and her band perform approximately 20 songs. They are all absolutely stunning. My only minor quibble is that the drumming on a beefed-up version of her signature hit 'Nothing Compares 2 U' slightly diminishes the song's remarkable raw power.
O'Connor is in her element and her command of the auditorium is astonishing to behold. When she closes her eyes and sings her heart and lungs out, completely lost in a meditative trance with one hand held aloft, words fail to describe her brilliance.
Her band are impeccable, creating a beautiful warmth and cosy ambiance for 'Three Babies'.
Last year's single, 'The Wolf is Getting Married' has turned into a showstopping highlight and one of the finest moments of her resurgent recent career.
The propulsive reggae of 'Fire in Babylon' has a new-found swagger and sense of purpose.
The last track from her current album, How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?, entitled 'V.I.P.', surfaces in the encore set. Again, Sinead stuns Earlsfort Terrace into silence with just her whispering voice.
It is a voice with no equals in Ireland, or indeed, anywhere else on earth. Sinead O'Connor hasn't just shunned convention since becoming a global pop star in the 1980s, but has torn up the rule book and written her own.
Say what you like about her, but the Glenageary girl is in a league all of her own. She is a national treasure in the purest and most brilliant sense of the word.