The reunited band arrived armed with a new album yet choose to turn back the clock.
The rare band that connected with alternative and soft rock fans in the 1990s, the reunited Cranberries arrive armed with a new album from its frontwoman yet choose to turn back the clock and play an amiable set of late 20th century British rock. Their nostalgia, though, is not that of their audience: Dolores O’Riordan, the Irish quartet’s fireplug of a singer, added a unique maternal perspective to the oeuvre by using her children and compositions to create a Cranberries timeline.
It’s an interesting twist on nostalgia: While each song pings a listener’s memory — and judging by the age of the sold-out crowd, the Cranberries’ hits were largely a high school soundtrack — for O’Riordan the tunes are associated with pregnancy, childbirth or her own parents. It seems obvious in retrospect — “Pretty,” “Ordinary Day” from her solo debut and, obviously, “Ode to My Family” play up that sensibility — but most ears in the ’90s were focused on her limber wail, the gentle caress of their orchestrated melodies and their monster hit, “Zombie.”
Her distinctive voice still effortlessly glides across “Linger” and turns harshly glacial on “Zombie,” but there are plenty of instances when the full-throttle approach heard on record has been tamped down. The solution, increasing the reverb on her vocals, was uncomfortably synthetic. Band, augmented by keyboardist-guitarist Denny DeMarchi from O’Riordan’s recent solo disc “No Baggage,” brings sufficient energy to the set, the influence of the Smiths quite prevalent; oddly enough, the more racket they created, the more cohesive they sounded.
A full hour passed before they tried a new number, “Switch Off the Moment,” and it was strikingly clear why O’Riordan’s solo career has largely stalled: The song simply lacks the spark of the Cranberries’ songs, and there’s a strong sense that voice alone cannot carry the act. Still the Cranberries have found their footing providing a pleasant reminder of an attractive band from the ’90s.
Show was one of the last gigs on a 19-date U.S. tour.