Cloaca Melodia

My life in concerts, by Mike Sauter.

8/23/1990

Sinead O'Connor

Jones Beach, Wantaugh, NY

I had been a fan of Sinéad since she burst onto the international music stage with her 1987 debut The Lion and the Cobra. In fact, by mid-1990, I was consumed with trying to meet her. At the time she was in the U.S. making promotional appearances for her second album, the exquisite I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, I was working in the mailroom at A&M Records, and I pestered a number of co-workers who promoted music to radio stations, MTV, and the media to get in to some sort of press event--or anything--in which I might be able to say hello to Ms. O'Connor.

Nobody could, or would, assist me.

And to make matters worse I was then living in New York and handing over nearly all of my paycheck to my landlord, so I couldn't even afford a ticket to see one of her August amphitheater performances in the metropolitan area, at Long Island's Jones Beach or at the Garden State Arts Center in New Jersey.

My pestering of co-workers did pay off, however; when somebody got comp tickets to Sinéad's show at Jones Beach on Thursday, August 23rd and couldn't go, they kindly passed them on to me the day of the show. I called up my friend Marnie and quickly figured out which bus to take to get to the amphitheater.

The show was amazing. I wrote down the set list and show notes on the back of an envelope, which I'll post as soon as I locate the box it's in.

I recall "The Last Day of Our Acquaintance" as being jaw-droppingly powerful. To get a rough approximation, seek out her Saturday Night Live performance from September 29, 1990 (not the infamous 1992 pope-ripping one; this one was the season opener with Kyle MacLachlan as host and Sinéad performing "Three Babies" and "Last Day").
I know you don't love me anymore
You used to hold my hand when the plane took off
Two years ago there just seemed so much more
And I don't know what happened to our love
The song had an extra dimension live that wasn't on the album. On record, the "oh-whoa-oh" parts sound a little stilted in their forced syncopation, whereas on stage Sinéad wailed in anguish like George Harrison in "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." You got the sense in concert that Sinead was singing to a person instead of to the audience.

The next evening's show at the Garden State Arts Center became Sinéad's first major controversy when she refused to play if the venue didn't skip their usual practice of playing the National Anthem prior to the show. Tabloid headlines screamed.

World Party was scheduled to open this Jones Beach, but didn't. I had heard a rumor at the time that she kicked World Party off the tour to add a band featuring a musician she was dating. I never knew if this was true or not, but she did show up as a surprise encore guest of World Party a month later.

To this day, I have never met Sinéad despite several blown opportunities. I was on vacation when she accompanied Jah Wobble to a 1991 Asbury Park concert and people from my radio station at that time went bowling with Wobble, his band, and Sinéad ("we took the skinhead bowling," everyone said when I got back from vacation). And I probably could have met her when I saw her in 1997 if I had worked a little at doing so.

UPDATE: I finally met Sinead in June 2007. It was a very exciting moment for me, although it was a little anti-climactic. But not only did I meet her, but she toasted to my new marriage and my impending fatherhood (the toast originated with her tour manager and she just clinked glasses, but still).

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