Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sinéad visits North Bethesda

Wednesday, October 24th 2007:

This is our first time visiting the beautiful Music Center at Strathmore in North Bethesda for a concert by none other than the once-controversial (or is she still?) Sinéad O'Connor. Think Symphony Hall but with maple wood everywhere and a couple more levels and maybe just a bit smaller. They even have a nice food and snack bar, and beverage bars in various locations as well as monitors outside the concert hall to watch while having a burger and a drink. We had great seats - third row a couple seats off center - and considering it's not one of those standing room only places, it was certainly nice not worrying about getting a good view. There were some distinctive folks in attendance, such as a large biker-type guy with a black jean jacket that said something England, a couple of goth/emo fans, older, senior citizens, and the one guy with a blue sleeveless tee that stood up and clapped after almost every song.

Damien Dempsey, a fellow Irish artist, opened up, or as he put it "warmed up" the crowd for her. Most of his songs consisted of just his voice and his lone guitar. Some of his songs included "Ghosts Of Overdoses" (about heroin addiction) "Sing All Our Cares Away" and "Factories". He had some good banter like how when Sinéad asked him to go on tour, he thought he would be on security detail and how when he visited NYC and was amazed how many people with different backgrounds got along so well. He also said that while on tour in the U.S., he woke up with half a hoagie and chips next to him and decidely chose to eat the hoagie for breakfast, ending his story with "I love this place."

Then we had about 20 minutes before Sinéad would perform. Brian was looking forward to a turkey burger, but they had already closed the food section. Luckily the gift shop was selling some mixed nuts to tie him over.

Okay, so there was an announcement overhead before the concert started that photography was prohibited, but this is Sinéad O'Connor. I couldn't help myself. But respectfully and just out of enjoying her voice and music, I only snapped 20 photos, which is nothing. I wasn't too worried about being caught as a woman in the first row dead center took photos with her iPhone several times.

How refreshingly SOULFUL and AMAZING was this concert?! Not only does the super-talented Sinéad sing as beautifully as I've always remembered and heard, but I was literally sucked into the music. You just want to listen to her voice, her lyrics and get lost. In her signature style, she sings from whispers to sudden bellows. She looked down for most of her performance, saying that she has a bit of stage fright, but said that if the audience just closed their eyes, she would go a bit more nuts, doing a little dance while saying so. I thought it was a little unfortunate since she has such large gorgeous eyes that you could take a peek into her soul - remember that 80's video? A few times, especially during the first song, she had some technical difficulty with the sound, although I couldn't quite hear it, and kept looking to her sound tech to fix them.

She would talk between songs, engaging the audience even more, on such topics as religion, motherhood, and mad dog. She compared television preachers, which she got addicted to watching while living in Atlanta for 3 months(?), to preachers back home, saying those back home could learn a thing or two, joking how she guessed it was okay to preach for money. She also said that a small percentage of the Christian press who interviewed her for her new album "Theology" would take offense with her saying that "God perhaps doesn't want war." She raved about one of her stagehands, saying how awesome he was because he tried to shake the hand of (or was it kiss) the queen of Poland and that he probably drank a little too much mad dog beforehand. Near the end, a baby started crying in the audience, and she was amused that someone brought a baby to the concert, going on saying babies have some telepathy and could talk to one another. When asked if she had any children, she said she has four - 20, 11, 3, and a 10-month (wow!), quite openly tapping her butt saying that was the reason why before laughing and trying to move away from the subject.

(this is what happens when you just sit and listen - it's easier to remember the banter)

Setlist, as close as I can remember, order
The Emperor's New Clothes
I Am Stretched On Your Grave
You Made Me The Thief of Your Heart
You Cause As Much Sorrow
The Lamb's Book Of Life
Never Get Old (which she said she wrote when she was 15)
Something Beautiful (Jeremiah)
Three Babies
If You Had A Vineyard (Isaiah)
Nothing Compares 2 U
Thank You For Hearing Me
The Last Day of Our Acquaintance

In This Heart (very moving acapella performance with her guitarist, bassist, and violinist)
Black Boys on Mopeds (she prepped the audience before singing this)
Back Where You Belong (from the upcoming December 25th movie about war, The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep)

If you have a chance to see her, I STRONGLY recommend it.

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