Effortless talent of influential all-rounder

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Imelda May

Opera House, Blackpool

Having quite forgotten why her planned Blackpool debut last year had been postponed, a heavily pregnant Imelda May admitted she was relieved to be here “at last” – Blackpool being the place the Dublin born all rounder’s parents came for their honeymoon.

With her and guitarist Darren Higham’s first born expected in August the former Imelda Mary Clabby’s stage movements aren’t quite as pronounced these days but when it comes to singing it will take more than a maternal bump to cut down her almost two hour set.

If a performer’s influence can be measured by the number of lookalikes in their audience then Imelda is indeed very influential.

It’s easy to see why. Fronting a line-up which looks and frequently sounds like Quenin Tarantino’s house band she slips effortlessly from torch song to Texas swing, and from rockabilly to smokey blues.

It’s not everyone who would begin an encore with a ukulele version of The Ronettes’ Baby I Love You before socking out a hearty version of Tainted Love and an early Elvis medley.

It’s not everyone who would or could feel perfectly at home delivering blues classic Spoonful along with her own debut singles Johnny’s Got a Boom Boom and Big Bad Handsome Man.

Her tight four piece band – joining Darrel are the lightning fingers of Al Gare on double bass and bass guitar, Steve Rushton on solid drums and Dave Priesman multi skilling on trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion and guitar – are as adaptable as her vocals, so let’s hope she meant it when she promised to be back one day.

Robin Duke