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Review: Imelda May at Central Station

by Ben Davis on 14 October, 2009 | 2 comments

Gig Review by Elly Roberts
(Photo – copyright Elly Roberts 2009)

According to Jools Holland Irish chanteuse Imelda May has ‘it’. Now this ‘it’ thing is a tricky one. Does it mean ‘it’ for now, or ‘it’ for longevity? Answer later. While most 20-somethings are going for the retro Soul sound, Irish troubadour Imelda May is doing her own retro thing – Rockabilly – an early branch of burgeoning Rock’n’Roll in the early 50s, also known a Hillbilly Music. On an already stick night in North Wales, red-hot Imelda May turned up the heat even more at Wrexham’s premiere venue, Central Station.

Imelda MayEmerging to a rousing reception, diminutive May charmed us with her unique take of the genre in a dazzling 90 minute gig.

Looking every bit the part in full retro gear – quiffed ponytail, black top, leopard skin leggings and platform soles, she launched into a brace of high octane Rockabilly gems setting the crowd of 250 into raptures.

After a fast and furious opening of vocal dexterity, tambourine bashing and a fair bit of shimmying by May, twanging guitar by hubby Darrel Higham, throbbing basslines by cool looking Al Gare, pounding sticks by Steve Rushton, and rasping trumpet blasts by Dave Priseman, she shifted through frenetic rock’n’roll tinged Love Tattoo, the title track from her second album.

By now she’d warmed up, and so had the crowd. Those magnificent tubes really are something to behold, and she was out to prove she’s one of the best singers on the scene.

Cooling off, she went for a steady jazzy ballad Blues Calling, showing she can handle the slowies with equal finesse, matching the quality of her heroes Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone, followed by a rocking cover of Helen Wolf’s Poor Boy.

With ponytail swinging furiously – she ripped into a more country tinged shuffle for the swinging No Turning Back bringing bouts of dancing from the fans close up. Highman’s finger-picking went into overdrive with May looking on lovingly, and no wonder because he’s a top guitarist, dishing out plenty of twang.

Giving a nod to Johnnie Cash, she handled compatriot Sharon Shannon’s Go Tell The Devil with great respect, and fury.

Blasting out second hit single, the jazzy Big Bad Handsome Man featuring some raspy trumpet by Priseman, the crowd sang or mouthed just about every lyric. It got the biggest cheers up to then, inevitably.
One of several covers on the night, The Beatles’ Oh Darling was delivered as a stunning ballad again showcasing those well oiled tubes.

A Western flavoured Proud N Humble was an urgent sound-alike for the Wagon Train theme – think “keep those doggies movin”.

All For You and tender Fall In Love, gave her another chance to pay homage to the greats. Under the red lights, she looked remarkably like a young Judy Garland.

The run- in brought four stompers including the one we’d all been waiting for, her first hit Johnny Got A Boom Boom. The reaction was predictable. The band was rockin’ furiously and so were we.

We wanted more, so for the encore we got a superb cover of Soft Cell’s Tainted Love, a song she’d considered doing live after suggestions to have a crack at it by BBC Radio 2s Dermot O’Leary.

Closing an impressive set, she blasted out Rollin’ with equal gusto, looking sweaty but thrilled. Just like us.

So is she in it for the long run? Of course. A long time.

Please note: the views expressed in this review are not necessarily of wrexhammusic.co.uk.

Author
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Ben Davis

Email: ben@wrexhammusic.co.uk

Ben is the founder and main writer for wrexhammusic.co.uk.
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2 Comments

  1. imelda diosa! ♥

  2. ♥ imelda

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