Gig Review: Imelda May - Hampton Court Palace Festival ✭✭✭✭✭

Imelda May
Hampton Court Palace Festival

Review by Emma Curry

Wednesday 19th June 2013: On these muggy summer evenings, spending a night in a hot, stuffy theatre can be almost unbearable. Last night then, for a change, we headed outdoors instead to Hampton Court Palace, in order to attend the fifth evening date in their Summer Festival programme. The evening saw Imelda May, Ireland’s mash-up of Billie Holliday, Johnny Cash, and Amy Winehouse, transforming the somewhat austere surroundings into a jazzy, bopping extravaganza with her phenomenally powerful voice and unique rockabilly style.

When an artist begins a gig by saying they’ll be performing a lot of new material, audiences usually give a collective shudder: the prospect of a show without any recognisable hits can be a sign that proceedings are going to drag somewhat. In May’s case, this was absolutely not true: there was no decline in quality throughout this show, with her new work just as catchy, jaunty, and lyrically-perfected as her previous hits.

Old favourites such as Mayhem and Big Bad Handsome Man were seamlessly mixed in with new material, of which Wicked Way, a sultry ballad with a phenomenally dirty trumpet solo, and The Hell Fire Club, a tribute to Dublin’s notoriously debauched drinking den, were my two highlights.

It was testament to May’s talent and range that she could have us all enraptured by a hauntingly beautiful lullaby (written for her young daughter) one minute, and dancing in the aisles to the raspy, raucous tones of her famous hit, Johnny Got A Boom-Boom, the next. Her voice was absolutely phenomenal live and she didn’t miss a note throughout the show. I for one can’t wait to hear the finished album!

Five stars ✭✭✭✭✭