Sinead O’Connor, nothing compares to brooding mezzo

She loves Barbra Streisand, but that’s where the connection ends – although she did sing «Evergreen» at the age of 14 and found herself in a recording studio shortly after. She has never really understood why people buy her albums. She uses music as a platform to say things you can’t say in real life. She admits she often gets angry, but in most cases, her frustration hides tears. These days she would rather not be recognized on the street, she never goes online to find out how she popular she is (she is no fan of Google), she believes in psychotherapy and would love to play Eliza Doolittle in «My Fair Lady.» The truth is that as soon as you hear her name and the mezzo-soprano voice, the first thing that springs to mind is «Nothing Compares to You» – written for her by Prince – her shaved head and sad face against a black background. Sinead O’Connor is coming to Greece for her first live appearance in this country. At the age of 43, she is a woman of few words – as honest as she is direct, she can come across a little on the morose side. Gloomy yet dynamic, she is constantly on the defensive, as if scared of what the next question might be. Born Sinead Marie Bernadette O’Connor in Dublin, in 1966, the middle child in a family of five children, her parents divorced when she was 8 and she ended up living with her mother, who, she claims, was physically abusive to her and her siblings. Twice married and twice divorced, O’Connor has four children by four partners. She has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, in other words, manic depression. Just before her 33rd birthday, she attempted suicide. Some say that she became self-destructive, wanted to destroy her career, become unpopular and be left alone. Things did get better after she discovered religion. Why is she coming to Athens? «No one had suggested it before. It’s the first time I received an official invitation to come to Greece. And that’s why I accepted.» On stage she will be alone, accompanied by a few musicians and her guitar. «We will hear a more acoustic version of my songs,» she says. What is her worst nightmare during a live performance? «Fortunately, I have never come across anything bad. I think the worst that could happen would be to forget the lyrics and not be able to open my mouth.» She is currently working on a new album, due for release in 2010. What is it that she despises about the entire production process? «The work’s promotion. I hate the idea of giving 14 interviews in one day,» she says. «It’s nerve-racking and annoying. It’s no fun at all.» While her music has evolved, her personal style has not. What is it that keeps her from experimenting with her hair and her image? «I like to explore new musical paths. I get bored of doing the same things over and over. As for my image, my kids love my hair exactly the way it is. They whine when I grow it longer.» She would like to work on albums featuring country music, religious pieces or even classical arias in contemporary renditions. What kind of music do her children enjoy? «My 22-year-old son listens to rap and a bit of reggae. My 13-year-old daughter is a Johnny Cash fanatic. My 5-year-old son can’t stop singing ‘I like to move it,’ from ‘Madagascar 2,’ while my 2-year-old baby is constantly singing ‘Happy birthday to me.’» What would she like to do in the near future? You’d be surprised to know that O’Connor would like to be a candidate for television’s music competition X-Factor – in disguise. What does she have to prove? «I’m not sure. But it would be interesting. It could be fun. It would be nice if I didn’t make it and didn’t get chosen. To be thrown off the show. I would be absolutely revolted if something like that happened.» Sinead O’Connor appears at the Karaiskaki Stadium tonight. The concert is a double-header along with Filippos Pliatsikas, special guest Gordon Gano (of the Violent Femmes) and Maraveyas Illegal as the opening act. For tickets: Tickethouse, 42 Panepistimiou, tel 210.360.8366 and Public and Fnac multimedia stores.