The Cranberries @ Metropolis – May 8, 2012

Opening band Vintage Trouble is a four piece American soul and rock band that I wasn’t familiar with at all.  Lead singer Ty Taylor, who possesses a strong and flexible voice, hails from down south in the U.S. (North Carolina, I believe he said).  Though the band is based in California they have that dirty South rock/soul sound going on.  During their 30 minute high energy (the way that Taylor moved around the stage, wow!) set they ran through their songs like “Nobody Told Me”, “Strike Your Light” and “Nancy Lee”.

Some bands will always remain in the nostalgic category for the listener.  The Cranberries are one of those bands for me.  Over the course of ten years starting in the early 90s they churned out top notch track after top notch track.  Between the years of 1993, when their debut album Everyone Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We, and when they went on hiatus in 2003 they had released five studio albums and were generally considered one of the most successful bands of the 90s.  Part of the success was due to their brand of Celt tinged anthemic rock songs, but most of the band’s popularity was due to their firecracker of a lead singer.  With her punk rock wardrobe and her lilting heavily accented voice Dolores O’Riordan captured everyone’s attention.  Well, it is now almost twenty years later and nothing has changed.

From the moment Dolores O’Riordan took the stage and began singing the signature song “Dreams” Montreal renewed its love affair with her and her Irish bandmates.  Dressed in head to toe black, O’Riordan is now 40-years-old (though she jokingly tried to pass herself off as 21-years-old after being handed a scrapbook filled with pictures of the band through the years) and the years have not affected that unique voice.  She is still able to bring goosebumps to the skin of the listener with her range and the angelic quality to it.  Her vocals are pretty much still impeccable and powerful this deep into her career.  Every time I hear her and the band live I think on how they sound even better live than they do on record.  Layers are added to the songs by the band when they play them live.

More than O’Riordan’s vocals impressed me.  I was a little concerned going into the show as I had read that the previous show in Philadelphia had to be cancelled due to her suffering from food poisoning.  Now, most of us have been affected by a case of food poisoning, so we all know how draining it is. Dancing around and singing under those hot lights (she did have a Beyonce styled fan going at the front of the stage, though) is hard even when you are at the top of your capabilities.  My worries were relieved as she was full of energy.  She was always moving around the stage in her distinctive way.  After she got over her initial stage fright at the beginning of the band’s career, she has developed her own way of moving about the stage.  O’Riordan reminds me of a child when she dances about not really moving in rhythm.  It’s just pure joy.  Rather she just allows herself to be moved by the music not really in any kind of traditional fashion.  She has a few signature moves that each time she does them the crowd erupts.  We applaud her childish love for the music.

The warm welcome that greeted the band at the sold out show lasted for the entire 90 odd minute set.  Right from the beginning and even on non-released songs the crowd took over lead vocals.  O’Riordan would just stop singing and hold out her microphone to allow the crowd to take over.  We got the thumbs up often from the lady from Limerick.  Her joy in delivering the songs is contagious and the audience was in a full Cranberries induced fever.

For the few doubters out there who might take the lack of interest in The Cranberries recently released album Roses as a sign that the band is past its prime the show last night proved the opposite.  People of several different generations were at the show and all singing and dancing together.  Love of their music lives on.

Their tightness and musicality were on display throughout.  Because most of the attention is focused on O’Riordan we tend to forget the three guys behind her.  Lead guitarist Noel Hogan paces around the stage in small tight circles working up quite a sweat.  He is a fantastic guitarist using an incredible amount of guitars to create the signature guitar sounds of the band.  His brother bassist Mike Hogan lays down some great backbone beats.  Several of their songs feature killer and well known bass lines.  And finally, drummer Fergal Lawler absolutely beats up his instrument.  They are all fine musicians.

Despite their time apart and away from their fans as soon as they started playing it was like they had never stopped.  There is something about the band and their rock anthems that will never go out of style.

Setlist:

  1. 1) Dreams
  1. 2) Linger
  1. 3) Tomorrow
  1. 4) How
  1. 5) Animal Instinct
  1. 6) Just My Imagination
  1. 7) Ode To My Family
  1. 8) Put Me Down
  1. 9) Analyze

10)  Desperate Andy

11)  When You’re Gone

12)  I Can’t Be With You

13)  Waltzing Back

14) Wanted

15)  Free to Decide

16)  Schizophrenic Playboy

17)  Ridiculous Thoughts

18)  Zombie

Encore:

19)  Conduct

20)  Losing My Mind

21)  Salvation

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