Dolores O'Riordan-Burton

Cranberries Leave Bitter Aftertaste

The Cranberries
with Cracker
GM Place
Vancouver, B.C.
Sunday, August 4, 1996

Review by Daniel Ewacha
Photography by Rodney Gitzel

Does the fact that a band which has three successful albums, an appearance on MTV's Unplugged series, and Woodstock the Sequel to their credit automatically qualify them to become a headlining act playing the largest arenas this continent has to offer? If it does, then the rules should be changed unless the band in question is able to put on nothing less than a truly memorable performance. Unfortunately, this was not possible in the hands of the Cranberries, in particular lead vocalist and frontwoman Dolores O'Riordan-Burton. As the one member of the band who takes much of the press and attention the band is given, she, in the case of this review, must take the bulk of the criticism as well.

Dolores O'Riordan-Burton Let me clarify one thing before I continue. I am a very big Cranberries fan. This was the third time I have seen them live, previously opening for Duran Duran (who they subsequently blew off the stage) and headlining at the Town Pump, where, again, they were quite impressive. But, even before this show, I was skeptical as to whether or not they could play an arena-sized venue. To my disappointment, my greatest fears were made reality.

Only one word could come to mind after seeing this show: pretentious! It seems as though fame hasn't just gone to Dolores' head. It's taken over her whole body! From her holier-than-thou struts and odd looking dance which carried her the length of the stage, right down to the way she thanked the crowd after every song with a booming THANK YOU!, something only Rush's Geddy Lee can get away with. Not to mention the three different costume changes -- normal if you're David Bowie or Elton John, proven veterans, which the Cranberries are not.

Cracker's David Lowery The circling lights of crosses during the preachy version of "Salvation;" the white baby grand piano at the top of the stage, hidden behind stage props and revealed to the crowd when it was needed and even when it wasn't; and the set of percussion instruments wheeled out during the encores which I could not hear nor see being played were just a few examples of the Cranberries' attempts to make this more of a show than it was.

There were a couple of positive things about this show. First, the tight and brilliant sounding rhythm section of Fergal Lawlor and Mike Hogan on drums and bass respectively, and the eloquent sounds of Noel Hogan's guitar. Second, half of the set was made up of songs from their first and best album to date, Everybody Else Is Doing It So Why Can't We? (with the other half being made up of material from No Need to Argue and their latest effort, To the Faithfully Departed).

Cracker's John Hickman This show, I believe, was doomed from the beginning with the choice to play an arena. If it had taken place at the Orpheum or the Q. E. Theatre, the end result I'm sure would have been more positive. Instead, the Cranberries tried to graduate into the touring elite and failed. As a fan who wishes them longevity and success in their future, I'd suggest that perhaps they should go back and complete the grade they skipped.

Cracker had the honour of opening the show and although they, too, lacked what it takes to be an arena-sized band, they were impressive nonetheless, playing an entertaining set consisting of their interesting mix of rock and roll and hillbilly twang, including an eight minute set-closing version of "Eurotrash Girl," a song worthy of the thunderous applause it received. However, for both bands, it will be a while before their talents can be fully experienced and appreciated at this level of touring.

First published in Drop-D Magazine on August 17, 1996

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