As countries go, Ireland’s unrivalled when it comes to its exports.
Butter, crisps and Cidona aside, one of our most well-loved musical shipments The Cranberries returns in 2017 refreshed, revitalised and bursting with new tunes.
They still whet the appetities of many, given the sold out crowd in both Dublin and Belfast. It’s a hugely varied crowd – parents accompany children, grandparents accompany grandchildren – as they await to see how kind the years have really been to the band.
Arriving bang on time, Dolores O’Riordan and co deliver an unsettlingly restrained rendition of Analyse. The frontwoman appears rigid in her movements, seemingly conscious of the expansive crowd before her.
However, her voice is still intact – but never underestimate how much a good string quarter can distract you – that is, until she launches into The Animal Instinct. Her lack of confidence is glaring, as she participates in weak call backs with an eager audience.
Linger brings a moment of composure. At times, the instruments threaten to stifle Dolores’ vocals, but she perseveres – as sweet and delicate as it was upon its release.
On Ode To My Family and similarly fast-paced ditties, its apparent that guitarist Noel Hogan is much more comfortable working at that tempo. And for once, Dolores appears unafraid, delivering a flurry of words with the riffs.
Midway through the set, and they’ve hit their stride. An 80s soft-rock instrumental interval is a beautifully put-together respite, before Dolores’ wonderfully playful vocals on Twister.
Miraculously, none of the older, more established hits sound dated, especially Zombie. It’s strong, it’s menacing, and it’s a sight to behold witnessing hundreds of people throw their fists to the air and roar back.
The Cranberries are well-seasoned touring musicians, so they know how to work a set. They’ve clearly left most of the new material for the encore, meaning the body of the set never loses steam.
Why is a difficult performance to watch – a song chronicling the difficult relationship between Dolores and her father. It’s evidently as tough for her to perform, as occasionally she appears to struggle to get the words out. It’s sorrowful, and beautiful.
Other new tracks like The Glory and Rupture, while lyrically could be considered amateurish, still capture the Cranberries magic of old.
It’s solid hour and a half’s work from The Cranberries. Ultimately, nerves get the better of them at the start, and Dolores’ stiff demeanour is distracting initially.
But there’s something still there – why would they be touring and producing music otherwise? Perhaps it’s just a case of readjusting to the stage and realising that what ‘was’ there never actually left.