A tear-inducing tribute to the human trafficking victims was among the highlights of Sinead O'Connor's magnificent gig in Cork, writes Aine Bonner.
Sinead O’Connor’s smile lit up the stage, her raw, pure talent surely at its peak. It was as if everything she’d been through in her life up to that moment had led her to this place: where every molecule of her being was at one with the music.
Playing to a packed Cork Opera House during the jazz weekend, her performance was perfection. Passionate, oozing an inner calm that radiated from her, she poured out her heartache, her joy, her very being, song after song.
There was very little crowd chit chat on Saturday night. The odd thank you in between songs that took your breath away, such was the power with which they were sung.
And then she spoke quietly, dedicating an astounding accapella version of 'I Am Standing On Your Grave' to the 39 people who perished in the back of a lorry in Essex last week, praying that nothing like this would ever happen again. You could have heard a pin drop, and some in the crowd wiped their tears away.
This was followed by 'In This Heart', again unaccompanied except for the mesmerising harmonies provided by her two backup singers, who joined her at the front of the stage.
O'Connor’s set - accompanied by her electrifying band - shifted from blues to punk to folk to trad without missing a beat. From the flick of her fingertips coinciding with the tinkling of the keyboards, she was in tune with every note played on that Opera House stage.
Dressed in the hijab she has worn since her recent conversion to Islam, she belted out classics like 'Nothing Compares 2 U' and 'Thank You For Hearing Me', along with newer songs such as 'Milestone', like a diary entry that documented one of the bleaker times of her life.
O'Connor has, at the age of 52, described finally feeling at home, having reverted to Islam. And you can feel it. She was certainly at home on that stage on Saturday night.