Sinead O'Connor - El Rey Theatre - 2/20/12
El Rey Theatre
For everything that has happened to her in the past few months -- including her cry for help on Twitter -- the one place where Sinead O'Connor is still comfortable is onstage in front of her fans. Last night kicked off two shows at a near-capacity El Rey and the beginning of her world tour.
Though her political views and outbursts have been more talked about than her albums, O'Connor appears ready to put that behind her and focus on music again. At her first show in L.A. in many years, the Irish singer was upbeat and in good spirits.
On the eve of the release of How About I Be Me (And You Be You)? -- her ninth album and first since 2007 -- O'Connor played an 80-minute set mixing in songs from across her catalog. She performed older tracks like "Jackie," "Emperor's New Clothes" and "Nothing Compares 2 U," along with new ones like "Reason With Me" and "4th and Vine." She clearly enjoyed being in front of her raucous fans, displaying a confident swagger and mixing in lighthearted jokes with some witty banter, some of which poked fun at her controversial past.
"I promise I won't say anything inappropriate," O'Connor said more than once, and the crowd laughed with her. It's fair to say that she made it through the set without doing anything that she'd later regret.
Since bursting onto the scene in the late '80s O'Connor's appearance has changed; she's now sporting eyeglasses and a gigantic chest tattoo of Jesus. But her dynamic voice remains the same. Effortlessly, she's still able to hit the high notes on the anthemic pop songs that defined her early years.
As the night concluded, she finally gave in and went on a minor rant about Irish monks who don't have to take a vow of celibacy before performing a quick, final number, but nothing she could have done would have dampened the crowd's mood. By letting her music speak louder than her actions, she demonstrated that when she's focused she still has one of the most powerful voices in music.
The Crowd: Very diverse, from hippies to older Generation X'ers to tattooed, leather-wearing tough guys.
Random Notebook Dump: Everyone was well behaved, except for the guy next to me who kept screaming "mamacita" in my ear every time the singer addressed the crowd.
Set list below: