Gilbert O'Sullivan
Courtesy of BMG

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Gilbert O’Sullivan at City Winery

You’d think a star like Gilbert O’Sullivan would have played D.C. dozens of times. The force behind some of the biggest hits of the ’70s, he has been writing witty, tender pop songs for four decades. But his 2022 U.S. tour marks the first time the Irish singer-songwriter will visit the District. It’s certainly a show to look forward to. With two Billboard No. 1 hits to his name, O’Sullivan’s lyricism and whip-smart style has proven to be universally appealing. Nina Simone covered his 1972 megahit “Alone Again (Naturally),” which launched him to international stardom. Behind these accolades is endurance and consistency—O’Sullivan has 20 albums under his belt, with work spanning all 40 years of his storied career, from the Nashville-recorded Gilbertville to his excellent 2018 self-titled album, produced by Ethan Johns (who’s worked with everyone from Paul McCartney to Laura Marling). O’Sullivan has always been a pop writer, but how he conveys that in his music is always changing, partially due to his evolving list of collaborators. “By having a different producer, it gives [the music] something a little different, something a little extra,” O’Sullivan tells City Paper. The singer has been able to curate an eclectic repertoire, which comes across on the stage, too. For years, O’Sullivan has captured the attention of crowds with an array of genres (rock, ballad, reggae), but this tour emulates a larger shift—he’s bringing just a piano, guitar, and his voice to City Winery. “It’s very intimate, up close and personal,” he says. “Bill [Shanley]’s on guitar, I’m on piano, and off we go.” The stripped-down approach emphasizes his lyrics, which tell stories. “It’s all about the songs,” he says. O’Sullivan is excited to spend time in a city he’s always wanted to visit—and D.C. should be just as excited to see him. Gilbert O’Sullivan performs at 7:30 p.m. on March 20 at City Winery, 1350 Okie St. NE. $30–$45.