THE Cranberries have always had a sound which has been difficult to categorise.
Part rock, part traditional with the distinctive vocals of lead singer Dolores O’Riordan, songs such as Zombie and Linger saw them become one of the most successful bands of the Nineties.
Now the band have revisited some of the best known songs for the ‘unplugged’ album Something Else and next week they will head to the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, with a sting quartet in tow.
Something Else sees the Cranberries sound stripped back with additional arrangements provided by members of the Irish Chamber Orchestra.
“This approach really has given the songs a totally different sound,” said Dolores. “Zombie sounds really different and so does Dreams. People are used to hearing them with distorted guitars as they were real rockers but now with the guitars taken out and a quartet put in you hear the song in a new way.”
The idea for an acoustic album was inspired by a one-off concert to mark Dolores’ home town Limerick becoming Irish City of Culture in 2014 where the band played with an orchestra.
The project was then firmed up as the band celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2015.
“The idea was to give the songs a sort of re-birth,” said Dolores. The acoustic album and subsequent live show will mainly feature songs from the band’s first four albums.
“We went with a lot of songs in the live set that lot of the fans are familiar with,” said Dolores, “although the new album does feature three new songs.”
Dolores said that she has enjoyed the opportunity to work with a string quartet.
“It is challenging to have strangers behind you on stage,” she said. “But we have been rehearsing at the University of Limerick and that went really well.
“It’s all about knowing your cues and knowing when to come in as some of the arrangements are somewhat different to what we’re used to.”
Dolores said that the whole thing had been a learning process for the classical musicians too.
“We’ve had to keep them comfortable with the volume from the drumkit and have had to work with them on the sound. We will be using some sound panels to make sure the balance is OK for them.”
Although the new re-worked songs will be the main feature of the live show, The Cranberries rock credentials are not totally being jettisoned.
“I think we will ‘plug in’ at times and add a bit of electric just to make it a bit more dynamic,” she said.
After seven albums, 50 million record sales worldwide and being together over 25 years - the group did take a six year break in 2003 to develop solo projects - what is the secret of The Cranberries longevity?
“I think we have plenty of space from each other,” said Dolores. “We don’t really hang out with each other outside of work. We just work together and have very separate lives.
“That makes it special when we get together and we’re not on top of each other all the time.”
The Cranberries, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Sunday, May 28. Details from 0161 907 9000