Sinead O'Connor

Sinead O’Connor at St Pancras Church, London

Sinead is a rebel. Her quest for truth in both the spiritual and political realms are often a matter of public record, as have been some of her more personal tribulations, and these have always been reflected in her music. It seems ages since she did any gigs in London, and certainly a long time since she was headlining in major venues. Last night she brought her rebel music to a very intimate gig in London, as a warm up for her Crazy Baldhead tour happening in the new year (LSO St Luke’s on 17 January, Elgar Room at Royal Albert Hall on 15 February, and Barbican on 27 March. These gigs are to promote her new album How About I Be Me (And You Be You) and the single 4th and Vine (released 28 January 2013).

The old St Pancras Church, which makes the Union Chapel look cavernous, was the perfect setting for the gig. I arrived just in time (I went to the other St Pancras Church), and no sooner had I taken my seat than Sinead walked on stage. Well, it was actually the bema, with a relief of a holy dove above her trademark shaved head. Barefoot and wearing a floor-length velvet dress, this was very much the old, feisty Sinead – the strong, independent pagan woman – who, by her own admission was on her best behaviour, saying that she had to keep reminding herself, before she said anything, if it was appropriate.

Accompanied by keyboards and another guitarist, the acoustic set started off with songs from the new album before going onto more familiar songs such as Nothing Compares 2 U, finishing off her encore with The Healing Room from Faith and Courage (my personal favourite of her albums), which was the song that confirmed to me that she is a true Gnostic.

By the end of the show there was no doubt in my mind that Sinead is one of the truly great soul singers in the world, although not in the traditional Aretha Franklin sense. Her voice may have Celtic roots, but every word and every note that passed her lips poured out of her heart and soul and with such power that at times it didn’t need the mic to fill the nave.

No matter whether her upcoming gigs are acoustic sessions, like this one, or electric ones, don’t miss a chance to see one of the almost forgotten greats of contemporary music who always has something profound to impart when she sings.