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Saturday 10 December 2016

Nothing Compares to Sinead...

Sinead O'Connor
Sinead O'Connor

You won't hear Sinead O'Connor perform Nothing Compares 2 U at this week's Vicar Street concert, but she still knows how to create a sense of occasion.

From announcing onstage that she is to become a grandmother to halting a show on account of a nearby duck, there's rarely a dull moment at a Sinead O'Connor gig, global hit or otherwise.

She might be a granny-to-be, but not for her the gentle carousel of bridge clubs and bingo halls. The world has never tired of women who are adept at causing a commotion, and this respect O'Connor is a genuine frontrunner. But as is often the way in Ireland for women who don't - heavy air-quotes here - 'know their place', O'Connor's ideas and opinions are often met with an eye-roll by the Irish public. Tattooing the letters 'B' and 'Q' onto her face? Deciding to join Sinn Fein one month, and withdrawing her application the next? It's all 'typical' Sinead, isn't it?

But read between the lines and cast to one side the knee-jerk reaction, and O'Connor is very often speaking sense. What's rarely acknowledged, along with her mischievous and wry sense of humour, is her acute sense of social justice.

Only recently, she called for a revolution to create a unified Ireland, and has decided to use her profile to highlight national causes.

And while she has hit the headlines for her extra-curricular activities with metronomic regularity, her musical output has recently gone from strength to strength.

Her latest album, I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss, has been heralded as a glorious return to form; one of her strongest and most focused works in years.

And while O'Connor's career pulses with a renewed vitality, it's clear from her decision to retire her biggest hit that she is only looking forward, not back.

Speaking about the heartfelt track, written by Prince, O'Connor recently said: "The first principle of the manner in which I'm trained as a singer is we never sing a song we don't emotionally identify with.

"If I were to sing it just to please people, I wouldn't be doing my job right, because my job is to be emotionally available.

"I'd be lying. You'd be getting a lie. My job is to give you honesty. I can't act. It just isn't in my training."

And as any artist worth a damn knows, nothing compares to staying true to oneself.

Tanya Sweeney

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