Waterfront Hall, Belfast
20th December 2017

A speedy return to the city and venue, last played here May of this year. Nice work having the sold-out signs up a couple of weeks ago. Imelda May is at least one Ms May whose popularity hasn’t declined over the last year.

A short warm-up set from Mick Flannery. He may have been listening old recordings of Country Joe at Woodstock, give us an f, several fs in fact.

There now followed a thirty-minute break, maybe to cool us down. During this many in the audience played away on social media on their phones. One was hoping this would prevent the need for recourse to them during the actual show. No chance. Rude, annoying and downright bad manners.

Just after 9pm Imelda May and her band took the stage. All dressed in black against a nicely lit set. The band is a five-piece, two guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums. They proceeded to deliver a high energy, well-rehearsed, paced performance.

The majority of the songs are written by Imelda and are drawn from her current and last but one album. She is clearly working very hard on his aspect of her show, trying to write from her recent and past personal experiences. Such an approach takes courage and determination and she is to be commended for it. ‘Call Me’, ‘When It’s My Time’ and ‘Black Tears’ are evidence of this.

The show is really built around Imelda’s voice and her on-stage personality. The band is efficient but supportive rather than in a lead role. The overall sound has moved away from rockabilly towards a guitar and keyboard rock vein. The influence of album producer T Bone Burnett is clear to hear.

Imelda is very relaxed and chatty on stage, having the house lights up and acknowledging all sorts – her cousin, a local painter, a fan from San Francisco. Dancing is encouraged.

There is a nice three-song acoustic set, delivered with just guitar accompaniment while both sit on the edge of the stage. ‘Molly Malone’ and ‘The Girl I Used To Be’ reference her Dublin childhood.

Imelda speaks of the Paris and Manchester events and their impact on the music world and beyond. She encourages people to shake hands with strangers beside them.

Great version of the old Animals number ‘I’m Crying’ and, of course, ‘Johnny Got A Boom Boom’. Twenty songs including an encore. That is a fair bit of singing, well done Imelda, value for money.

All I want for Christmas is an off button for my neighbour’s mobile device. Please, I am asking nicely.