“There are only two primal emotions, Love and Fear, I choose Love”
Well there’s plenty of love around for Imelda May tonight. It’s easy to see why. She comes across honest, witty and likeable. She’s been touring her latest album, Life Love Flesh Blood, her fifth, for most of this year Opening the set, sat down, centre stage to the quiet and gentle ‘Call Me’. One of her real ‘singy’ songs and this Dublin girl can sing alright.
Tonight’s set showcases most of the songs from this impressive album, with the occasional visit to older places, ‘Johnny Got A Boom Boom‘ allowing her to showcase her skills on bodhran, ‘Big Bad Handsome Man‘, and ‘Mayhem‘.
“I could be Babe, Darling, Honey ,but I want to be your ‘Human’” she says, introducing said song. “I sometimes like to go shopping and other things I can’t mention”, before introducing ‘Bad Habit‘, “I had a bad night one night and my mascara was running“, leading us into the incredible ‘Black Tears‘.
Mid-set we get 3 songs with Imelda and acoustic guitar accompaniment; during this we get her take on the traditional ‘Molly Malone‘, which I’ve always associated with the Dubliners, and a fine job she does on it too. The clarity of sound never being an issue at this magnificent hall.
Although it’s ‘Should’ve Been You‘ which finally gets the mainly middle aged crowd on their feet and dancing in the aisles, I’ve always liked her version of The Animals‘ ‘I’m Crying‘, and we even get a bit of The Undertones’ ‘Teenage Kicks‘ in the encore.
She’s backed up by a kickass band who I feel would be as adept playing to standing audiences at your local O2
A nice touch comes halfway through the set where she brings the house lights up and gets everyone to introduce themselves to the people around them, I’ve never seen a performer do this before and it goes down well. She tragically lost people around her at the Bataclan and this acts as a reminder to everyone that music is there for peace, love and harmony amongst all creeds and cultures.
I think Imelda has choices to make now, and she’ll know this. She has already navigated a successful sea change in her career, from the rockabilly days of yore. And she has worked with an impressive array of peers. Obviously she could follow this album with similar, and break through big, huge even, but equally you could see her going down a country rock road or singing jazz at Ronnie Scott’s. She certainly has the ammunition.
PHOTO CREDIT: Paul Reno.