Rockabilly Queen Imelda May’s Dual Role

Imelda May returns to Cardiff with a rocking night of music at St David’s Hall on Monday. Her current tour follows the release of her recent album Tribal, which rocketed to No.3 in the UK earlier this year and stormed its way to the top of the charts in her native Ireland.

“We’ll be playing almost every song from Tribal and then I’ll be playing some from Mayhem and Love Tattoo,” Imelda recently told me, “Good songs, good music and a good night, no gimmicks and no costume changes and a good atmosphere.”

Imelda is keen to be playing for her Welsh fans once again, “They have the passion for music like the Irish do and the crowds like to let their hair down which is always a bonus, I love it!”

Dubliner Imelda has always had a keen interest in music from childhood, turning her talents to performing party pieces for the family and singing in school choirs. As a teenager she turned away from the sounds of Wet Wet Wet and Rick Astley to be inspired by the blues and rock riffs of Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran as well as country, rhythm n blues and punk.

Imelda is keen to point out that the Rockabilly influence in her music is more rooted in the present than in the past. “I’m not wanting to do retro music,” she says, “I definitely put a big chunk of now into it and keep it current. I never lived in the 50s but I live very much in the now. I want to catch the feeling of stuff from then and keep it for now. I can’t be nostalgic about something I never experienced.”

The electrical essence of Rockabilly has always been a big draw to Imelda, “I remember saying to a teenager that Somethin’ Else is the first punk rock song ever made. If you put Eddie Cochran on, turn it up really loud that could’ve been written anytime. It’s a fantastic song and it rocks out like mad.”

Imelda who will be performing her recent hits It’s Good to Be Alive and Wild Woman gets a real kick from performing her special brand of primal rock n roll. “That’s what I’m addicted to; the adrenaline pumping around is fabulous. When I get that between myself, the band and the audience, it kind of feeds upon itself in a good way. So, I go mad, the band goes mad and the audience go mad and that’ll make me go mad and it all goes round and round. It’s great when you get the electricity and then you bring it right down and do a ballad and you can hear a pin drop in the house. I love that and then on the next one, everyone jumps again that’s what drives me.”

Motherhood hasn’t slowed Imelda down as she will be bringing her two year old daughter on tour with her. “You know what they say, if you want something done you ask a busy person, I get on with it. I’m a musician and always have been. I know no other way; I don’t know how to not do it. I think I’d probably be miserable if I wasn’t making music, its in my bones. I love been a mammy as well, the most important job is been a mammy. I think one role balances out the other, I’m a happy mother getting to be creative!”

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