An astonishingly wide variety of artists have performed tributes to David Bowie since his death in January, from Madonna and Bruce Springsteen, who covered Bowie in concert, to Lady Gaga and Lorde, who sang tributes at the Grammys and the BRIT Awards. On Friday night, Sinéad O’Connor added her name to the list—and she may have turned in the best performance of them all.
O’Connor appeared at the Metro in Chicago for a Bowie tribute concert that doubled as a benefit for cancer research. Backed by Bowie cover band Sons of the Silent Age, she sang two early Bowie classics, “Life on Mars?” from 1971’s Hunky Dory, and the somewhat lesser known “Sorrow” from Bowie’s 1973 covers album, Pin Ups. (The latter was originally recorded by the McCoys.) The band hewed closely to Bowie’s original arrangements, and O’Connor’s soaring, powerful vocals proved that she can still bring the house down. It’s a performance that makes Lorde’s lovely take on the same song seem listless by comparison, and which demonstrates why Gaga’s more bombastic, Vegas-revue-style Grammys performance was mostly just an opportunity missed.