Review: Imelda May Live at De Montfort Hall, Leicester

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Irish songstress Imelda May has had a whirlwind of a year since releasing album Life. Love. Flesh. Blood. Receiving rave reviews, nominations for awards and appearing on numerous prime-time shows while extensively touring the UK and Ireland.

With all the buzz around Imelda, Musicvein had to venture to the City of Leicester to catch her penultimate show at De Montfort Hall.

Opening was musician Andreya Triana, whom I recognised from an appearance on Later…with Jools Holland, and I have to say Andreya was the perfect accompaniment to Imelda. Her music, a blend of Soul, Funk and Blues had the audience mesmerized as she flittered through harmonies one minute then blasted you into next week with her powerful voice.

Performing a selection of songs from her back catalogue which included; ‘Everything You Never Had’, ‘Lost Where I Belong’, ‘A Town Called Obsolete’ and ‘Gold’, the most impressive part of her set was when she performed a cover of Eurythmics ‘Sweet Dreams’.

Laying down harmonies into a Voice Box before the audience and never missing a beat, Andreya performed as if on stage with a host of backing singers – the astonished “Wows” from the audience said it all. You just knew from the calibre of the support act that Imelda was going to be amazing and she certainly didn’t disappoint.

Entering a dimly lit stage to raucous applause, Imelda May took a seat to sing the album opener ‘Call Me’. Imelda’s honeyed voice, sweet and longing, wrapped around the audience and held everyone to attention – I particularly loved how she repeated a verse in French – as we all know how significant Paris is in her life.

The song ‘When It’s My Time Lord’ sent a chill down my spine. A combination of the church organ sound, the occasional bathing of light upon me and something in Imelda’s voice made me want to cry. Only after singing that song did she announce her dedication of that song to her Uncle – “I dedicated that last song to my uncle who’s on his way out…” she said with a faint crack in her voice “He’s a great guy who told me lots of stuff he shouldn’t have but hey.” The stunned audience offered their words of comfort, but as you know you can’t keep a feisty Irish woman down and no sooner had she had her moment, Imelda changed the mood and cracked on with a killer show.

I loved how each song came with an introduction and insight into how/why she wrote that song, the concert then became more personal as if you were in company of friends. At one point Imelda asked the audience to turn to one another, shake hands and make an introduction. “I like to think that everyone should connect and if you come to one of my shows you’re the kind of weird person who like to get to know everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re Christian, Protestant, Muslim, Jew, Gay, Straight, Bi, Lesbian, Trans, Black or White and if people don’t agree with me you can just bugger off.” Imelda said to huge whooping, hollering and laughter.

Imelda is a real funny woman and tells it like it is, sipping on red wine between songs she suddenly blurted out “I hate that wine, tastes awful, give me another glass of red” the way she said it in her accent made everyone laugh. Next a guy shouted out “I love you” to which she quickly replied jokingly “You don’t even know me”.

Now if you thought, the night was going to be all bitter sweet songs of love and loss, then you don’t know Imelda at all. Yes there was a moment where the band slipped away, and breaking the 4th wall she sat accompanied by her guitarist to perform acoustic versions of ‘Molly Malone’, ‘Inside Out’ and ‘The Girl I Used To Be’ but once the band returned all hell broke loose.

Expelling demons she belted out ‘The Longing’ and ‘Leave Me Lonely’, I wanted to be up out of my seat dancing.

Sensing the crowd’s urges the little devil shouted “Stuff the security, get out of your seats and come down here I want to see you up and dancing!” she needed no further encouragement, a swarm of people descended to the ‘Posh Pit’ (was too civilised to call mosh) and partied the rest of the evening away.

Imelda May’s Life. Love. Flesh. Blood Tour will be one to remember for a very long time.

If you’re heading to the Royal Albert Hall tonight, you’re in for a fantastic time, I wish I could relive it all over again.

 

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