Irish rock group The Cranberries took a hiatus from the music world for a good chunk of this millennium. But if seemingly every other group from their '90s era have reunited, then why can't they?
Well, they've done just that. And if their gig at a sold-out Sound Academy in Toronto on Wednesday night is any indication, they are certainly not embarrassing themselves.
Led by the tireless, pint-sized ball of energy known as lead singer Dolores O'Riordan, The Cranberries turned back time for the most part, content to breathe new zest into their '90s era catalogue over a tight 90-minute set. Yet it was the opening combination which might have surprised many when O'Riordan and crew (with a touring backing vocalist and guitarist) launched into the sweet Dreams and then the melancholic Linger.
After those songs earned a boisterous response and O'Riordan splitting the vocals with the crowd, The Cranberries went into Tomorrow, the first single from their new album Roses. While melodic and with a certain Smiths-like jangle, it paled compared to the warhorses. Thankfully the singer, donning a sparkling black top and jet black hair, atoned for the rather stoic, punch-the-clock demeanor guitarist Noel Hogan, bassist Mike Hogan and drummer Fergal Lawler showed early on.
Routinely thanking the crowd when not dancing up a storm, O'Riordan's voice never faltered, a voice instantly recognizable nearly two decades on. The roots pop foundation fuelling Just My Imagination led into the tender Ode To My Family, the latter's opening notes earning cheers from the tightly-packed onlookers.
The band's first two albums (1993's Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can't We and 1994's No Need To Argue) were well-represented as Ridiculous Thoughts, Put Me Down, Waltzing Back and How complemented some of the slower numbers like the doo-wop feel of When You're Gone that had many swaying arm in arm. O'Riordan sat for this song, a well-deserved breather after the rollicking, bouncy Desperate Andy dazzled as both Hogans matched her intensity.
With some of her children's school teachers looking on from an upper balcony, O'Riordan led the group through I Can't Be With You which the guitarists went to town on for a solid conclusion. Unfortunately the same couldn't be said for Schizophrenic Playboys, another new number which had O'Riordan “sweating like a mad woman.”
For their main set finale, The Cranberries tore into Zombie which had the crowd taking over lead vocals as the singer acted like a conductor at times as strobe lighting added another dimension. Fortunately it has aged quite well like most of the band's repertoire.
After an encore which began with two new songs – and which seemed as odd as opening with two huge favorites – The Cranberries wrapped up with the ramped up Salvation, leaving little argument as to whether or not a reunion was a good idea.
Just My Imagination
Ode To My Family
Put Me Down
When You're Gone
I Can't Be With You
Free To Decide
Losing My Mind