4th May 2017
As we made our way out of the Regent last night a man in the crowd, talking to his friends summed the show up by saying: “…well I thought it would be a good show, but I didn’t expect it to be THAT good.”
Imelda May was quite simply superb.
I had the pleasure of interviewing her recently and I asked her how she felt about bringing this very personal, very honest album on tour. “Really happy” she said, “I can’t wait to get goin’ on this tour. I am absolutely flyin’ after every rehearsal.” If she was merely flying after the rehearsals then she went into orbit on stage last night.
In a simple short little black dress, she arrived on stage and sat to sing ‘Call Me’ – you could hear a pin drop.
I have been playing her new album, ‘Love Life Flesh Blood’ almost non stop in the car. In truth, I was wondering how on earth she would translate such a fine piece of work to a live show. In many ways the show is better, far better. Imelda packs so much real emotion and raw, raunchy energy into each number that it is impossible not to be moved.
The way she bounced on stage, the way she rocked and shimmied was proof, should any be needed that this is a woman confident in herself, in her music and in her life.
But what of this much talked about change in style? In truth, this is not a change. Soul, rock and gospel is what this woman was born to sing. She has emerged from the shadow that was rockabilly and introduced us to the real Imelda May, the sassy soul singer who could touch every person in the auditorium.
She appeared genuinely excited as she checked her set list between numbers, as if discovering for herself for the first time what came next. There was little by way of introduction to each number, nor did there need to be – except for one: ‘Love and Fear’ written in the wake of the Bataclan massacre.
In amongst the rocking ‘Bad Habit’, ‘Levitate’, ‘Game Changer’ and the rest of the new album she played ‘Mayhem’ and ‘Johnny’s Got a Boom Boom’ – fan favourites from a former life but numbers which sit very comfortably in the new show.
My personal favourite number of the night, the one that brought a tear to Imelda’s eye was the duet with her guitarist. Indeed, I think it is my favourite from the album – ‘The Girl I Used To Be’ – just a simple story about family, she says.
Doubtless this show will mature and be refined as it tours the country – by the time she arrives at Latitude in July she will blow Henham Park away.
With the difficult task of warming up the crowd was Jack Lukeman. An Irish singer songwriter whom I have been a fan of ever since I stumbled across his 1999 album Metropolis Blue on a trip to Dublin. Jack’s deep, deep voice, unaccompanied, filled the venue with ‘Old Man River’ – It is not often that a support act gets the auditorium on their feet but Jack did. And the good news is that Jack will be back in Ipswich at The Sir John Mills Theatre on 14th June.
I must also mention someone who caught Imelda’s eye, as well as mine. I only know her as Jackie. A white-haired lady of advanced years. She could not sit still throughout the show, by the end she was down at the front dancing her proverbial socks off – good music will do that to you, if you let it!
[box type=”info” align=”” class=”” width=””]The Ipswich show was the first of the tour. There are plenty of opportunities to see Imelda play live – to find a show near you, click here.[/box]