This was a night I had looked forward to for some time. Catwoman and I had booked the tickets to see Imelda May months ago and the day finally arrived last Friday. This incredibly talented woman was certainly no disappointment, but more of her later. I need to tell you about the superb support act; Big Boy Bloater. I have heard a few of his songs on-line before but they simply hadn’t prepared me for just how good he is in a live setting. The best support act I have seen in years and remember I do have a lot of years! Mr Bloater (I don’t know his real name yet, but I know it isn’t Duncan!) has retro blues style with a splash of contemporary sounds.
Catwoman felt that his music wouldn’t be out-of-place on the True Blood soundtrack next to Jace Everett. He has some great songs. I particularly liked “That Ain’t My Name” and “Big Fat Trap”. He also did a great version of the Platters “My Prayer” in a modern ska style. I met the man himself after the gig and got him to sign the two CDs I bought from the Merchandising stand; one for me and one for Catwoman (aka Catherine). If you’ve not heard him yet you really need to check him out, you will not be disappointed.
After a short break the wait was finally over as the Irish dynamo that is Imelda Mary Higham better known as Imelda May took the stage with her supremely talented band. Every song was a winner; “Love Tattoo“, “Sneaky Freak”, “Psycho”, “Mayhem” and “Johnny Got A Boom Boom” to name just a few. Boom Boom is currently my favourite Imelda May song. Catwoman and I also love “Inside Out” and had that one played after we signed the register at our wedding in September. Who would have thought that a song mentioning wobbly bits would work, but bloody hell it does!
She had the audience eating out of her hands, including us. If she told us to sing along we did, if she told us to clap we did. It’s pretty difficult to ignore an instruction from someone who is not just talented but clearly seems to love what she is doing. The audience participation probably peaked during “Proud And Humble” which she sang largely a capella with help from her audience. To do it all in those killer heels just adds to the admiration! The band was amazing, truly fuelled by rockabilly rocket power. But believe me if you see Imelda and her band as just rockabilly then listen again, you’re wrong. She played a beautiful new song “Gypsy” which I think will be massive. I could also imagine Elvis Presley covering it had he still been around.
The encore was pretty special too; three perfectly executed and well-chosen cover versions. First up was a sparse acoustic cover of “Baby I Love You” (originally by the Ronettes and well covered by the Ramones) accompanied by Al Gare on the ukulele. The whole band returned for their storming version of “Tainted Love” (originally written and recorded by Gloria Jones and made famous by Soft Cell). You can find the studio version on Imelda’s ‘Mayhem’ album. I would love to say that the title of this blog is drawn from that album, but I’m afraid it’s not. The closing number was one that she said she had been singing for years, it was one of Elvis Presley’s biggest hits, “My Baby Left Me“. A great way to close a stonking gig. We left the Barbican with massive smiles as we walked through the rain back to the car. In fact I reckon everyone who was there left in a happy mood!
Would I go and see Imelda again? Absolutely, positively, definitely yes! The same for the Big Boy too!