PHOTOPHILE- 'Mesmerizing': O'Riordan gives it away at Gravity

Tad Abbey and Jeff Sweatman of The Corner with O'Riordan backstage

What happens when you put a singer who's sold 43 million records into a subterranean club typically reserved for tiny acoustic shows? And then advertise hard for two weeks on the radio? Oh, and don't forget to make it free.

You get traffic– at least 300 people piling into Gravity Lounge Monday, December 3, to hear Dolores O'Riordan, who spent over a decade atop the charts as the frontwoman and lead songwriter for Irish supergroup the Cranberries. Also on the bill was Charlottesville singer-songwriter Helen Horal and Australian rockers called The Kin.

"This is a charming town," declared O'Riordan, now touring under her own name, as she took the stage with two members of her band, brothers Steve and Denny DeMarchi.

"I'm nursing a bit of a cold," she said, "so you're gonna get the Snuffleupagus version of the songs tonight." Anyone worried she'd be one of those artists insisting on sticking with dreaded new material was pleasantly surprised when she opened with hits "Linger" and "Ode to My Family."

Three songs later, it was "Zombie," the song whose video memorably features O'Riordan in gold body paint. It was a three-guitar night, as O'Riordan, when she wasn't reaching toward the rafters, strummed a few numbers herself.

"I went up to Monticello by foot today," she told the crowd. "It was pretty cool."

Bandmate Steve DeMarchi, veteran of platinum-selling bands Alias ("More than Words Can Say") and Sheriff ("When I'm With You"), says that's typical athleticism for the pixiesque Dubliner.

"She'll get on a bike and ride 20, 25 miles," says DeMarchi, "and then she'll go swimming for 200 laps."

He also answered the burning question of why an artist as popular as O'Riordan, who still occasionally plays to stadiums, gave her love to a crowd of 300.

"It's actually more fun," says DeMarchi. "We basically had the month of December off, and she really loves doing the small, intimate shows."

After stops in Des Moines and Nashville (the latter a Toys for Tots benefit), the band rolled into Charlottesville after a tour-bus fire. But they got it extinguished and rolled on, DeMarchi said.

The next day, at 7:30am, as he cued up the acoustic version of "Linger" recorded at Gravity, deejay Tad Abbey of the sponsoring radio station, 106.1 The Corner, delivered his review: "mesmerizing."

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