Do you still have a player for this?” The Cranberries guitarist Noel Hogan asked, looking down at my cassette tape of their third album “To The Faithful Departed” with a mixture of curiosity and amusement. I replied with a sheepish yes, amidst laughter. I had hoped they wouldn’t notice the name sticker with the girly heart balloons, but there it was, a bright bubblegum pop mark on a black ’90s rock album sleeve. So sue me, I was still in grade school when I’d bought that tape. At least the band found it funny. And hopefully flattering.
Yup, those were the days when we’d swoon over “Linger” and “When You’re Gone,” even though we couldn’t relate to the heartache yet. When we’d warble “Zombie” and “Salvation” along the school corridors in an earsplitting attempt at mimicking Dolores O’Riordan’s iconic yodel. But as fate would have it, not all of us were able to watch them live back in 1996. Luckily, the reunited Irish quartet decided to make Manila the last pit stop for their “Greatest Hits” tour in Asia this year, to the delight of their fans: some old, some new, and some now thankfully old enough to attend a rock concert.
Trip down memory lane
“We’re really excited to be playing here again, the audience was so good last time, so energetic,” drummer Fergal Lawler reminisced during the band’s short chat with Super at Red Box in Eastwood Mall the day before the concert.
In response to the apparent “breakup/makeup trend” that ’90s bands seem to follow nowadays (think Mr. Big and Bush, among others), bassist Mike Hogan reiterated that it was all just about timing. “For us, it was the right time to take a break, to go on a retreat, and the right time to come back.
Some bands take a break but don’t get back together… So it did work for us,” he explained. “So it’s more like a time for soul-searching and recharging your batteries,” I offered, and the band nodded vigorously. “Exactly.”
The gap between 2001’s “Wake Up And Smell The Coffee” and their beautiful new record “Roses” might have been painfully long, but for the band members, the 9-year hiatus had worked to their advantage, resulting in a more organic-sounding album. “It gave us more time to write, to not be conscious of a deadline and [of] what people are gonna think about it,” Noel Hogan explained. “A lot of it is written more as like a hobby—a side thing that wasn’t really consciously written as a Cranberries album, just ideas that were passed on. And then, without knowing it, it became an album.”
Blast from the past
As the first post-Holy Week concert, The Cranberries had Pinoys of all ages gathering at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last April 10 for one rocking blast from the past. One couldn’t help but be swept away by the waves of nostalgia the moment O’Riordan’s ageless, hauntingly beautiful vocals filled the venue. No acoustic versions, lengthy speeches or coy suspense gimmicks; just pure, classic ’90s rock ‘n roll from start to finish.
To the untrained ear, it would be difficult to distinguish the old songs from the new, which is actually a good thing. The band opened their set with their first two hits, “Dreams” and “Linger,” followed by the breezy “Tomorrow,” a track from “Roses” that represents O’Riordan’s own trip down memory lane: she fondly dedicated the song to her daughter, Dakota Rain, who was celebrating her 7th birthday that same night. A string of crowd favorites soon followed: “Animal Instinct,” “Ode To My Family,” “Just My Imagination,” “Analyse,” “When You’re Gone,” and “Free To Decide,” with new songs like “Raining In My Heart” interspersed in between hits.
The whopping 22-song set list was bookended by their biggest hits; everyone’s favorite political angst-ridden nightcap “Zombie” had the crowd roaring for more, and the band indulged the crowd with three encore songs that ended with the frenetic “Salvation.” With that, the nostalgic journey ended on an exhilarating high.
“The Cranberries Live in Manila: Greatest Hits Tour” is presented by Karpos Multimedia Inc. and Midas Promotions.