The legendary Manchester rain was missing for the firs days of this festival. The sun was out and Festival Square was was a happy place. 44 year old mother of four Sinead O'Connor flew in on her way home from an Eastern European tour and kicked things off with three performances at the Pavilion Theatre - all sold out.
Maybe we should have expected this 1990's music icon to be tired, worn out or just a blast from the past - certainly the promotional pictures displayed around the Square where twenty years old or more. I wonder why for onto the stage that first night bounded a woman, initially nervous and visibly shaking, she soon looked, sounded and performed with an enthusiasm and commitment to her audience which was as refreshing as it was remarkable.
Straight into a new track from a forthcoming album 'Home' - 'Take of your shoes' (her latest offering to what she sees as the cant and hypocrisy of the Vatican) - she dedicates 'Last Day of our Acquaintance to guess who - 'he deserves it' Then its Hugh Hefner's turn 'No Mans Woman - "This is dedicated to the woman who ditched Wotsisface from the Playboy house," . As for sex with Hef? "I'd rather be a monk!"
She explains that the band is new -'only met em a couple of days ago' but the whole thing works wonderfully well. Then she is on her own - no backing, no music, no nothing just that unique voice belting out the classic 'I am stetched on your Grave'
The house responded and then we were treated to classic Sinead. Dirty jokes, old songs, new songs and the quips and asides that have marked her performances for twenty years.
The first night she wore a trouser suit and maybe responded to critics on the second by appearing in a white Victorian corset fully laced up at the back 'Gotta make sure me girls don't fall out' says she, hitching it up 'but maybe later'
This woman, whose career should be coming to an end clearly has so much more to give. A new album 'Home', due early 2010 ,has caused a stir. Described by one insider as 'her best ever'. That's some claim but judging by the new songs we heard here the guy may just be right.
In Manchester Sinead was having fun and so too was her audience - that is always a good sign.
Thanks Sinead and thanks Manchester - this was a treat
Roy G Moutford