Sinead O’Connor’s daughter performs moving cover of ‘Nothing Compares to U’ at New York tribute concert

Musician sang late mother’s most famous song during concert celebrating O’Connor and Shane MacGowan at Carnegie Hall

Roisin O'Connor
Thursday 21 March 2024 15:47 GMT
Trailer for Sinead O'Connor documentary 'Nothing Compares'

Sinead O’Connor’s daughter, Roisin Waters, performed an emotional cover of the late Irish artist’s most famous song, “Nothing Compares 2 U”, during a tribute concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall last night.

The music of O’Connor and her friend and fellow musician Shane MacGowan, both whom died last year, was celebrated at an event on Wednesday 20 March, shortly after St Patrick’s Day celebrations were held.

In the closing suite of songs, critic Sam Sodomsky wrote for The Independent, the Dublin-born Waters appeared on stage “bearing a striking resemblance and a similarly visceral vocal style” to her late mother, who died aged 56 on 26 July.

O’Connor conceived Waters with her friend, Irish journalist John Waters; their daughter was raised in Ireland with her father after a lengthy custody battle that ended three years after she was born.

At Carnegie Hall she performed barefoot, wearing an ankle-length dress with a bright floral pattern: “Waters carried her mother’s signature song as the band softened for its final verse, which O’Connor once directed to her own late mother,” Sodomsky said, noting that this was what inspired the tears in her original music video.

“The highlights of the night all spoke to this quiet strength.”

A clip posted to YouTube attracted a number of positive comments, with fans praising Waters’ performance as “beautiful”.

Roisin Waters performing at the tribute concert for her late mother, Sinead O’Connor, and Pogues star Shane MacGowan (Al Pereira)

Other artists who performed during the concert, which raised $70,000 for non-profit PEN America, included The Violent Femmes, Josh Ritter, Imelda May, Billy Bragg and Dropkick Murphys.

Musicians covered a number of MacGowan and O’Connor’s best-known songs over three hours, as well as regaling the audience with their personal memories and stories of the two artists.

Sinead O’Connor was known around the world for her powerful rendition of Prince’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ (PA Archive)

Pogues frontman MacGowan, known for the immortal song “Fairytale of New York” along with his band’s blend of political and socially observant songwriting with traditional Irish folk instrumentation, died in November 2023, shortly before his 66th birthday.

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Scenes from the Sinead O’Connor and Shane MacGowan tribute concert at Carnegie Hall (@BKLYNPaula/X)

“[He] has gone to be with Jesus and Mary and his beautiful mother Therese,” MacGowan’s wife, Irish author and journalist Victoria Mary Clarke, said in a statement.

“I am blessed beyond words to have met him and to have loved him and to have been so endlessly and unconditionally loved by him and to have had so many years of life and love and joy and fun and laughter and so many adventures.”

Shane MacGowan died aged 65 last year (PA)

Speaking to The Independent about the Carnegie Hall concert in January, Clarke said her late husband would “really appreciate” the tribute.

“He loved Carnegie hall and he loved Sinead,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to think about them both being gone but good to think of them being together and representing the more authentic and soulful side of Irish music.

“In my opinion they were two of the most raw and passionate and powerful singers in the world, but also two really great songwriters.”

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