Gone are the sweeping stage rants and so, too, is the enthusiasm; she stays back now and giggles between songs, allowing her languid performing style to be overshadowed by her four rhythmless backup singers. We’ve seen the sinner, this is the saint.
What she does well, though, is sing, and in a ballad-heavy show such as this, it’s important that her vocals be top-notch. On the new “This IS a Rebel Song,” she turned one of the quietest moments of the evening into a show-stopper via her sober-yet-fervid delivery; when she later sang the cathartic words “thank you for staying with me” the well-filled house welcomed her with open arms.
Artists, and PJ Harvey comes immediately to mind, have refashioned themselves with splendid results, beaming with integrity and fire. O’Connor, however, needs a smaller venue to get this far-subtler point across. Even her most recent full-length work, 1994’s “Universal Mother,” was loaded with spiritual and personal questions, but now that she’s found some answers, it would be nice to have them delivered either with commentary or without the expectations of a full-blown show.