Imelda May, Somerset House, London – July 11th
With the Somerset House Summer Series now in full swing, on Monday night it was the turn of Irish songstress Imelda May to seduce the crowd with her bewitching brew of rockabilly, jazz and blues. She arrived on stage 20 minutes late and for some, it was 20 minutes too late, the woman beside me crumpling into a heap during May’s second song after one glass too many. The rest of us however stayed the course and were rewarded with a right romp of a gig…
May famously likes to do things her way, refusing to be transformed into a pop muppet for a label deal – and thank goodness for that. On Monday she rocked up on-stage looking like an angry wasp in a yellow-and-black dress, buzzing and singing down the mic and giving a vocal masterclass to all wannabes out there. May doesn’t just sing her songs – she sings them into submission and we love her for it. She kicked things off with Love Tattoo and Train Kept A Rollin’, spreading a lil’ rockabilly into the evening air. Big Bad Handsome Man and Sneaky Freak kept things going at breakneck pace, while Proud And Humble was a particular high point, May slowing proceedings down and getting the rapt crowd to follow her every move.
Not that her audience needed much encouragement – most had come with an ‘up for it’ attitude, lindyhopping throughout and waving their hands frantically as May belted out her next track, the double bass twanging in the background and her suited-and-booted 50s band swaying along in the background. May and her sound evoke a bygone era and her songs gallop through rockabilly, jazz and blues, her voice rising and falling to suit. Other highlights included the slinky Hot For You where May transformed into a cartoon vampish temptress before our very eyes, along with the jaunty Inside Out. Truly, they don’t make them like this anymore.