November 2004

Sinéad O'Connor - Live: The Value of Ignorance/The Year of the Horse
Capital DVD 909000
Released: 2004

by Anthony Di Marco

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality **
Image Quality **
Overall Enjoyment **

This world can be a hard place. No musician knows this better than Sinéad O’Connor. In her almost 20 years as a musician, the Irish siren has sung about the hypocrisy of the "establishment" as well as the role of woman in society. O’Connor’s ability to craft an emotionally powerful song is obvious. And her beautifully dynamic and desperate voice drives those songs home.

My fondness for Sinéad O’Connor’s music renders this DVD-V as something of a letdown. The DVD feels like a piece of promotional material rather than a quality example of O’Connor’s work. The Value of Ignorance pastes together a few songs in which the video is heavily processed. I wasn’t sure to consider it artistic expression or a means of covering up the shortcomings of meager production values. Either way, it was distracting. The Year of the Horse is a straightforward 60-minute concert that doesn’t have enough going on to justify watching it. It would have been better use of my time to throw on a CD. The DVD-V would have been more enjoyable if the concert had included some music from O’Conner’s newest efforts, as well as an interview.

The music and musicianship are, as always, top notch. At one point O’Connor exhibits enough confidence to sing "I am Stretched on Your Grave" accompanied by only a tape machine. I’ve always considered O’Connor’s best work to be her more introspective ballads. "Three Babies", "Troy," and "Black Boys on Mopeds" are unquestionable classics that segue from thoughtful into the type of vocal crescendos that only a singer with Sinéad O’Connor’s vocal control can rally.

Technically the DVD is OK. Color saturation is fine and black levels hold fast, but it doesn’t take much to notice MPEG noise caused by the original analog master tapes. The 5.1 mix from the original stereo master is OK as well. Sound quality is what you would expect from an older analog recording: restricted dynamic range coupled with a high noise floor. The engineers did a nice job creating a pretty natural experience by using the rear surrounds to add the ambience and reverberation of the venue.

Still, if you’re looking to experience Sinéad O’Connor’s impressive talents, skip this lackluster attempt at cashing in and put you’re money into the CDs.