The Cranberries

Montreal has always been a favourite stop on the tour for many artists. The city boasts great crowds and music connoisseurs, but it is quite unique as to what works here and what doesn't. Some bands that are popular everywhere else don't translate here. It must make those who book shows absolutely mad. But when Montreal music fans like you it is genuine and for life. Even if you go on "hiatus" for 6 years all can be forgiven if you come through town on your 20th anniversary tour and demonstrate that you have not lost a stride during your time off.

Such was the case with Irish rock band The Cranberries when they played the intimate confines of L'Olympia. First of all the show was sold out and bodies were pressed up one against another, craning their necks to try and get the best view of the band's pixyish lead singer, Dolores O'Riordan. The lady is tiny, but has a huge, unique-sounding voice. With her short hair dyed jet black and wearing a gold sequined dress the lady is well aware who most of the crowd was there to see. Don't get me wrong the three lads (Fergal Lawler – drummer, Noel Hogan – guitarist, Mike Hogan – bass) that surround O'Riordan are all excellent musicians, but she is the show. You do not take your eyes off of her. She is the rock star with punk sensibilities matched with the voice of an angel.

From the first roar of the crowd you could tell this was going to be a special night. Montreal has always been a city in which in good times and bad The Cranberries were always hugely successful. No matter how album sales were going in the rest of North America here their albums sold. It did not matter a bit that there has been no new music for 6 years they are still adored. Recognizing that they are appreciated here and that the crowd was going to be a vocal one O'Riordan was in fine form from the get go.

She has come a long way from the performer that the British press dubbed "the girl who sings with her back to the audience". Confident and moving around the stage like a little dynamo, O'Riordan gave back as much energy as she received. Each of her now famous little shimmies and jigs met with rapturous applause. Intense and passionate, but not scary, connecting with the crowd now seems to come naturally to her. A savvy performer, she even respected the 70/30 language laws here as she spent most of the evening speaking to the crowd in French. Not bad for a girl from Limerick.

Every song was performed as a duet, with the sold out crowd singing right along with O'Riordan note for note, word for word. At times she gave up the spotlight and allowed to take the song over on their own. It was truly a collaborative event and magical.

The set list, which was a virtual run through all of the band's biggest songs, did not allow for many lulls in the energy. Even the slower tempo songs like "Linger" (I actually saw some lighters in the crowd) and "When You're Gone" were infused with tons of energy.

Starting off with one of their older hits, the fast-paced "How", The Cranberries demonstrated to one and all that their brand of pop-punk has aged well with the music still able to connect with an audience almost 20 years later. Let's hope that the tour will convince the band to get back together to record some new music.

Set List:
1) How
2) Animal Instinct
3) Linger
4) Ordinary Day
5) Wanted
6) Just My Imagination
7) Dreaming My Dreams
8) When You're Gone
9) Daffodil Lament
10) I Can't Be With You
11) Ode to My Family
12) Free to Decide
13) Waltzing Back
14) Switch Off the Moment
15) Salvation
16) Ridiculous Thoughts
17) Zombie
18) Lunatic
19) Empty
20) The Journey
21) Dreams

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