I can’t, but Imelda May

Dance, that is.

I’ve posted about her before, having first come across her when she supported Jools Holland at the Royal Albert Hall in London a couple of years ago. She is the only support act I have ever seen who could have gone on all night – the audience loved her. Last night we went over to the Barbican at York and she was brilliant.

Imelda May not only has a great voice, but she also can sing. From the high-energy Johnny Got a Boom Boom to the poignant Too Sad to Cry, she lives the song. From rockabilly through to ballad, she commands them all. And from the moment she walks on stage she commands the space with a charisma that is at once bigger than the venue and yet intimate in her connection with the audience. Bizarrely, you come away thinking the gig is not just about her – when she thanks the audience for coming out, hopes they are going home happy, generously thanks not only the band, but also the crew and venue management, you know she means it. This is an artiste who knows her audience, doesn’t take them for granted, and repays every penny (and more) of the ticket price.

But, it’s the music that is just brilliant. Her band are superb: tight drummer, excellent double bass player (how does he do that stuff?), evocative trumpeter/guitarist, and fantastic guitarist (and writer of some of the songs). Clever, entertaining and totally engaging, her approach is summed up in the song Humble and Proud: she struts the stage with charisma and confidence, belting out these wonderful songs, yet never overreaches herself.

Just go and see her. Don’t book a seat – stand where you can dance. OK, sort of dance.

The support yesterday was Big Boy Bloater. As I tweeted, I’d never heard of him before. But he and his band (the drummer and keyboard players reminded me for some reason of the Proclaimers) were entertaining, funny and promising of more to come. I didn’t get the CD. But, I will.