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AAA Music | 13 July 2020

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Sinead O’Connor: Little Noise Sessions @ St John-at-Hackney

| On 30, Nov 2011

London, 27th November

It is not unusual for a Priest to address a church congregation on a Sunday.  However, if the preacher appeared dressed in leather you may be aware that this could be a rather unpredictable sermon. Sinead O’Connor’s tumultuous relationship with Christianity – her strong faith but distrust of its earthly institutions – was perfectly framed by the venue, St John-at-Hackney. Her previous album was entitled Theology, she caused controversy by being ordained as a Priest by an independent Catholic group, and became infamous back in 1992 for tearing up a photograph of the Pope on TV. Consequently, appearing on stage beneath a huge stained-glass window of Jesus seemed undeniably poignant. Her opening line ‘I plead the blood of Jesus over you’ from Take off Your Shoes was the prelude to a show that saw O’Connor remind the audience of just how powerful a performer she still is.

O’Connor used this atmospheric setting to unveil some new songs from her next album. The melodic Reason with Me pleads ‘I don’t wanna waste the life God gave me, and I don’t think it’s too late to save me’, whilst in What is a Real VIP O’Connor ruthlessly satirises Bono. In addition to revealing some new material, O’Connor also allowed some of her older songs to step back into the limelight. Nothing Compares to You was truly breathtaking in its intensity, and Last Day of Our Acquaintance was imbued with raw emotion. Sinead O’Connor also paid tribute to Gary Speed by dedicating a heartfelt a’cappella version of I Am Stretched on Your Grave to his memory.

Sinead O’Connor’s unfailing ability to commit to a song, and express its core message, is deeply compelling. There is a real strength to O’Connor’s delivery which ensures that every lyric is sung with a fierce intensity. This was a determined performance from an artist who is rediscovering her unique voice. On the strength of this live show it is clear that Sinead O’Connor will be upsetting the establishment for a long time to come.


Samantha Edgley