The rise and rise of tonight’s Opera House star Imelda May has been unstoppable since the release of her album, Mayhem in the UK.
Already hugely popular in Ireland (with a triple platinum album under her belt). the release of Mayhem on the mainland has set her on the same path here.
Born in The Liberties, Dublin, Imelda is the youngest of five siblings, and was influenced by the music of her older brothers and sisters, which she could hear constantly through the walls of their two-bedroom house. There was folk, the obligatory chart pop, and then there was Elvis.
“My brother was a mad Elvis fan, and I found a tape in his room with Elvis, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent. I thought the music was fantastic.”
By the age of nine Imelda had fallen in love with rockabilly and the blues.
Imelda began performing in clubs when she was 16 years old and was occasionally barred from her own shows at Dublin’s Bruxelles club for being underage.
After fifteen years of singing in other people’s bands Imelda set up her own band in 2006. Acclaimed guitarist (and also Imelda’s husband) Darrel Higham took the role of lead guitarist.
The band recorded their previous album, Love Tattoo independently, and expected to sell a few hundred copies at gigs, but one Jools Holland performance later, and the album had sold triple platinum in Ireland.
Mayhem has Imelda’s trademark rockabilly sound but its lyrics are firmly set in the here and now.
“I’m always observing people so my songs are an amalgamation of my own life and watching the craziness out of the window.”