With the devastating news earlier this week of the death of The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan, and the void her loss leaves, I ran their very first session, via RTE Radio in Dublin from 1991. But I wanted to run one of their later concerts, when the band had achieved the heights of success only a short time after that session. And so I went through the vault looking for something that best illustrated what a powerful live presence O’Riordan was.
This concert, recorded by the Netherlands Radio outlet VPRO from February 8, 1995 is from a gig they did at the Vredenburg Music Center in Utrecht. I am sure everyone has a favorite Cranberries concert they remember. It would be crazy to say there was one definitive concert, as the band were in the habit of giving 110% all the time and there are no two memories ever quite the same.
So I went after sound. One of the main reasons I avoid bootleg performances, particularly ones that are listed as “audience recordings’, is because the sound just isn’t, for the overwhelming majority I have heard, very good. And my rule of thumb has always been; if you’re going to run something by an artist to always portray them in the best possible light, so that the audience can get as clear an idea as possible of just how spontaneous and, at times, brilliant live performances can be. There is also the historic aspect of the magic moments a live concert can bring. They are poles apart different from studio recordings, which have the luxury of numerous takes, overdubs, and ironing out imperfections. Live performances for me, are the equivalent of walking a tightrope without a safety net – they are unpredictable but they are also fused with an energy you don’t get in confined studio conditions. Say what you want, there is an energy exchange between artist and audience that fuels the performance and adds to the experience, the added nerves of standing in front of a crowd of 10,000 people, exposing yourself via your music gives it just that much more of an edge.
And as much as I love The Cranberries’ studio albums, hearing them live adds an added dimension to what is already a remarkable band fronted by an astonishing, and now sadly missed singer/songwriter.
This isn’t in any way meant to replace your albums. This is meant to add to the experience.
Enjoy and remember, and celebrate.