Still Reeling

Meant to post about this earlier. A few weeks ago I watched Sinead O’Connor perform at the Highline Ballroom…and wow. It had been years since I saw her live – probably since the Faith and Courage tour. Because of all the recent drama I really didn’t know what to expect, but I should have known better. Sinead O’Connor was as strong as ever. As funny. As defiant. As fearless.

The audience was chockablock with longtime fans, and judging by the number of teary faces (including mine) her music is the soundtrack to many lives. I spent the show rapt, with a stupid smile adhered to my face that took days to fade. Afterward I kept asking myself why she’s so magnetic. Part of it is nostalgia, to be sure – her songs are fused to particularly significant points in my life. But it’s also her conviction: when Sinead sings, she means it. Every word. She sings from the very center of herself, and FOR herself. But also for us. When she sings the words become universal and intensely personal at the same time.

Sinead sang several songs I never thought I’d hear live, and she encouraged us to sing along; one of my favorite things to do at a concert – as long as everyone else sings too. And we did. We knew all the words to Jackie and Three Babies. We filled in the parts she didn’t sing like a giant backup choir, helping her with the high notes she was afraid to hit because of laryngitis. (A message read by the venue promoter said as much before she came on stage.) But it didn’t seem to matter. WE mattered to her. She sang bravely, naturally, and with a full heart.