(May 25th ’02, Meadowbrook, MI)
As the lights go down, the background music quickly fading out, the roar of the all ages crowd begins to appear, the excitement and anticipation vividly evident in each and every one of their individual vocals.
Entering stage left, her five-piece band already on stage vibrating to the opening chords of the title track from their new album, ’Wake Up And Smell The Coffee’, Dolores O’Riordan veritably sways her way to front stage. Dressed head to toe in black garb, even her face is masked behind some futuristic version of a Mardi Gras fanciful.
From where I stand, literally self-positioned leaning on the stage, snapping photos like they were going out of fashion, I can see for the very first time just how impressive her vocal yelps really are. True, O’Riordan’s trademark pixie-like warbles can be somewhat annoyingly-overwhelming well before the end of a long show, but from the fore they are simply an irresistible phenomenon of the highest order. Her mouth veritably wraps itself around the high pitched exhalations, her lips purse in and out, her tongue noticeably curled and wet. But, as much as it is truly incredible a feat to witness at such close measures, I digress !
Tonight’s incredible set is broken into three parts, and although not orchestrally differing from each other, they allow for O’Riordan to delight us with reflections of her delightful wardrobe. In her black ‘Barbarella’ outfit, she grabs the audience’s attention early on with ’Analyze,’ the extraordinarily-charged ’Zombie,’ ‘Time Is Ticking Out,’ and ‘Animal Instinct,’ before charging head first into the first true hit of the night, the ethereal ’Ode To My Family’.
Throughout the entire show, which was as expected greatly heavy on tracks from the new album, the band never really got as hyper as the caffeine-enhanced O’Roirdan. Her stage presence was incredible, her voice spot on, her guitar and keyboard playing skills honed to perfection. The black and white, subtle stage set was non-intrusive to the festivities, and her love for her children plainly evident as they got name checks throughout the long show.
For ’Never Grow Old’ O’Roirdan is bathed in a cascade of red light as she strums her acoustic guitar, whereas when we get to ’Just My Imagination’ she is off an running, dancing and smiling like some gleeful imp. ‘Sunday’, from the debut album, ’Loud and Clear’ and ’Desperate, Andy’ round the first set off, but it isn’t more than two minutes later that she’s back for round two.
Dressed now in a red and black pokadot short-sleeved T-shirt with one black arm and one white, cowboy-looking pants with gold-frayed bell bottoms, a bright red boa thrown around her neck and shoulders, O’Roirdan bounces to the front of the stage amidst the sounds of ’Pretty Eyes.’ ’Dafodils’ is up next, which she enforces by throwing live daf’s out into the appreciative audience. By now the color of the set is decidedly psychedelic as we head into ’When Your Gone,’ ‘Free To Decide,’ ‘I Really Hope’ (where she twirls the red boa around her head constantly), the incredible ‘Salvation’ and the second-set closer – and easily one of the best received of the night – the heated ’Ridiculous.’
Bidding farewell to the enthusiastic crowd with a fond wave of the arm and a ’See you later’ anecdote, after an overlong wait of about five minutes – hey, we were outside and it was getting damn cold ! – the band come back for the final round of musical celebration. Cranking out ’This Is The Day,’ Delores is now ensconced in a black, ruffled, low-cut, sleeveless party gown set off with a purple feathery head wrap of sorts ! As the yellow and green lights pour down, they go straight into the first song they ever wrote as a band; the beautiful and poignant ’Linger,’ before bringing the set and evening to a close – after multiple front-row handshakes - with ’The Concept,’ ‘Chocolate Brown,’ ‘Promises’ and the equally beautiful trademark hit ’Dreams.’
Photo and Review by Russell A. Trunk