Sinead O'Connor, London Roundhouse, gig review: Gaza, Robin Williams, it's all here from a singer who refuses to skirt issues

4.00

The whole night has a cleansing ritual sort of feel

“I always wanted do a costume change,” says Sinead O’Connor, stripping to her bra and hauling a T-shirt emblazoned with the word GAZA, thrown onstage by a fan, over her head. “I thought it would be sequins and shit…”

No sequins, no s*** for Sinead. As her infamous open letter to Miley Cyrus last year reminded the internet, she’s not one for skirting issues or fretting over semantics or sensitivities.

She dedicates tonight’s whole set, and two songs in particular, to Robin Williams. The first is an a capella version of ‘I Am Stretched Upon Your Grave’ that stills the room with its luminous force. The second is ‘8 Eight Good Reasons’, from new album, ‘I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss’, released the day before,which recounts O’Connor’s own suicidal urges: “I had a dream last night/About a bullet and a red light… you know it felt alright/It actually felt quite nice”.

“It’s a very bad idea, the choice that Robin made,” she says gently, “and I want to dedicate this song to anyone today who may be contemplating that choice and ask anyone not to.” She finds the title’s reasons to stay in her music, and in a life-grabbing chorus. There’s a strident strut to these new songs, the likes of the corrosive, roiling anger of ‘Harbour’ and the grinding, bluesy romp of ‘The Voice Of My Doctor’.

O’Connor’s never been coy about her own mental struggles (“you know I don’t much like life/I don’t mind admitting that I ain’t right”, she sings matter of factly on ‘8 Good Reasons’), and though on her opening cover of John Grant’s ‘Queen Of Denmark’ she sings “I hope I didn’t destroy your celebration”, you sense she enjoys the role of very-much-alive spectre at the feast, bearing a platter of raw uncomfortable truths. And her still-astounding voice, with its mixture of astringent yowls and honeyed melody, smooths the swallowing.

While on ‘I’m Not Bossy...’ it’s often a muted version of itself, hobbled by soft, shlocky production, in the wild it’s lost none of its raw, gut-tugging force, unleashed to its stripping, healing full here. ‘Healing’ became a naff sort of word after the new age 90s, but someone forgot to tell Sinead; the whole night has a cleansing, ritual sort of feel, from the 90s dubby dance groove of ‘Thank You For Hearing Me’, to the mass catharsis of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ , its line “I went to the doctor and guess what he told me… He said girl, you better try to have fun no matter what you do” particularly heartbreaking this evening.

O’Connor’s spoken recently about how she sees music as a priesthood, and her encore feels like a benediction, ending with the spare beauty of the love-renouncing ‘Streetcars’, followed by a solo rendition of song learned from Irish monks which ensures that even the most cynical head home feeling a little less downhearted: “Give us this night untroubled rest and build our strength anew.”

Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment
Relocation, relocation: Zawe Ashton travels the pathway to Northampton

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Three was launched a little over five years ago with the slogan: “Three, is a magic number, yes it is.”

BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital move

TV
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

TV
Arts and Entertainment

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
Arts and Entertainment
The audience aimed thousands of Apple’s product units at Taylor Swift throughout the show
musicReview: On stage her manner is natural, her command of space masterful
Arts and Entertainment
Channel 4 is reviving its Chris Evans-hosted Nineties hit TFI Friday

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
A Glastonbury reveller hides under an umbrella at the festival last year

Glastonbury
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miles Morales is to replace Peter Parker as the new Spider-Man

comics
Arts and Entertainment
The sequel to 1993's Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, has stormed into the global record books to score the highest worldwide opening weekend in history.

film
Arts and Entertainment
Odi (Will Tudor)
tvReview: Humans, episode 2
Arts and Entertainment
Can't cope with a Port-A-loo? We've got the solution for you

FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets

Arts and Entertainment
Some zookeepers have been braver than others in the #jurassiczoo trend

Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant

Arts and Entertainment
An original Miffy illustration
art
Arts and Entertainment
Man of mystery: Ian McKellen as an ageing Sherlock Holmes
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Kitchen set: Yvette Fielding, Patricia Potter, Chesney Hawkes, Sarah Harding and Sheree Murphy
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map