Hometown glory – The Cranberries


[Update: Dolores passed away today – 15.01.2018. RIP Dolores. She was loved very much]

Last night’s gig was by The Cranberries from my hometown of Limerick. This is a group that I have seen perform many times. However if you exclude the pre-fame gigs in the music venues and bars of Limerick in the early 1990s, then this was only my third proper, grown-up Cranberries concert.

I grew up with the Cranberries. I mean that in a literal sense – I was in a metalwork class,  with a member of the group in St. Nessan’s Community College, until he left to join the band. They were a presence in my late teen years.

During the summer of 1993 I was working on a campsite in France. It was the summer that Ireland decriminalised homosexuality, and also the summer that the three day old Irish Times newspaper (it took three days to get the news in these pre-internet days) told tales of a band from Limerick achieving fame and fortune in the US. Those were heady days. Imagine – people from Limerick who I went to school with, becoming international rock stars. Computer said no. But the charts – they said yes.

The years that followed saw them achieve soaring, breathtaking, commercial success until they disbanded in 2003.

I’ve always been a fan of theirs – they are clearly talented musicians and singers – with Dolores a very charismatic front-woman. This is independent of the fact that they are from Limerick. Being from Limerick is the cherry on the cake though. It makes me feel personally invested in their music. In a ridiculous way it was as if they were singing the soundtrack to my much more mundane existence.

The first time I saw them live as a taxpaying, grown up was in Amsterdam in the Heineken Music Hall. It was magical. I can’t remember the exact year or circumstance – whether it was pre or post breakup but I’d been in Amsterdam for a few years at this point and it felt like a sort of personal homecoming to see them play in my new home town.

My next encounter with them was definitely after they had reformed. They toured their comeback album ‘Roses’ in 2010 (I think). I was still in Amsterdam. They played the same venue. Dolores sported a platinum blonde pixie haircut andsequinned, glittery trainers. She owned that stage. I adored it. Clearly they were not a band who were one hit wonders when it came to delivering the goods on stage.

Last night’s show – at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre –  was their first Dublin show in twelve years, my first time seeing them on a grand scale in Ireland, and their first Irish tour since the tabloid kerfuffle a few years ago. Expectations were high.

They are touring to support their newest album ‘Something else’ which is a new venture for them – a combination of their best known tracks and new material, done acoustically with the accompaniment of a string quartet.

They didn’t disappoint. It’s easy to forget just how big they actually were. They banged them out – hit after hit after hit. Linger, Zombie, Dreams, Salvation, Be With You, Analyse, Free to Decide, Ridiculous Thoughts, Ode to My Family etc etc. Along  with some new tracks, which sounded very impressive. I’ll just need to listen a few more times.

While I enjoy their new work I suspect it won’t induce the sense of yearning their earlier work inspires. They were the soundtrack to my early adulthood. It’s almost impossible to replicate the joy and pain, your earlier, more innocent musical tastes instilled in you.

It was a quieter gig than what I’d been expecting – perhaps as it was acoustic. The boys were giving it welly. And Dolores was in good voice – although she seemed a little subdued. Maybe it was to make sure we heard the violins?

It was a thoroughly enjoyable concert. I can only imagine what a Limerick gig would be like. I suspect it would be like a Saint Nessan’s class reunion.

Sing on Dolores.


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