Sad-eyed lady of the Garden

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The Independent Online
NEW YORK (AP) - They came to praise Bob Dylan. They buried Sinead O'Connor. The Irish rock singer was booed off the stage during a concert at Madison Square Garden on Friday night to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Bob Dylan's debut album. Two weeks ago she outraged US television viewers by tearing up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live.

O'Connor was supposed to sing a Dylan song, 'I Believe in You', but in response to the booing she sang a protest song, 'War', by the reggae artist Bob Marley. She had sung the same Marley song during her Saturday Night Live appearance on 3 October.

When she was finished, she left the spotlight in tears. The singer Kris Kristofferson embraced her and helped her off.

It was her first live performance since her Saturday Night Live appearance, which was greeted by silence from the studio audience and numerous angry calls to the show's network, NBC.

The sold-out concert, including O'Connor's brief appearance, was shown on cable TV. It was to be aired on a tape-delayed basis around the world within 48 hours.

Dylan, 51, was joined by Eric Clapton, George Harrison and Neil Young, and other singers including John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, and Tom Petty. Stevie Wonder, a surprise guest, sang Dylan's 'Blowin' in the Wind'. Most notable among the missing were Bruce Springsteen, who inducted Dylan into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, and Robbie Robertson, formerly of the Band, Dylan's brilliant backing group of the Sixties and Seventies. The house band was headed by the guitarist G E Smith, a veteran of several Dylan tours; guitarist Steve Cropper; bassist Duck Dunn; keyboard player Booker T, and drummer Jim Keltner.

Earlier on Friday, O'Connor told radio listeners that the Roman Catholic Church had invented anti-Semitism and was therefore responsible for Adolf Hitler. She talked for an hour on a radio programme, taking calls from listeners, including a nun whom O'Connor thanked, saying there were 'many beautiful people working in the Catholic Church'.

The singer said the Church has perverted modern civilisation by 'lying to people about their history' through 'forgeries' like the New Testament. The Church's anti-Semitism had started when 'the Vatican wanted to make out that the Jews killed Jesus', and had allowed Jews to be killed because of that. Jesus was always pictured in a loincloth, so that the fact that he was circumcised could be hidden, she said.

The Church's influence had created a disoriented culture in which 'people are controlled through fear . . . and 96 per cent of children are abused', O'Connor said.

The Critics, page 20

(Photograph omitted)