After seeing her perform with Jeff Beck at this year’s GRAMMYs, Irish rockabilly siren Imelda May has certainly got everyone buzzing… especially us! Imelda and her band came to town on Monday, March 15th to play a set at Martyr’s in Chicago, and according to the chosen few there to see her set, she tore it up!
I made my way out to Chicago’s Park West to catch up with Imelda and her crew, as they were now slated to be the opener for UK jazz-pop singer/songwriter Jamie Cullum. Upon arriving, the stage was still being set, including the tuning of the grand piano by a hired local expert. Needless to say, we had a little downtime before soundcheck.
I sat down to talk with some of Imelda’s road crew: tour manager Fred Brennan, front-of-house engineer Andy, and everything-man Tim Novak to talk about Imelda’s upcoming plans, the spike in success since the GRAMMY stint, and of course we talked microphones. I brought a new Super 55 for Imelda and Andy to try out during soundcheck, and the look of the mic already had them hooked.
During our conversation, Jamie Cullum was warming up with his band, and may I say… the guy is just SICK! He just makes it look so effortless when he’s up there, playing the piano, banging away on percussion or even playing guitar as needed, Jamie is just a natural talent and I knew that between Jamie and Imelda, this place was in for a killer show. By the way, Jamie Cullum and his mates are all on SM58s for vocals these days. Cheers gents!
When it came time for Imelda May and her four-piece rockabilly outfit to soundcheck, it was like a time warp in the venue. It was an instant throwback to the early rockabilly sounds of the ’50s, with the slightest touch of punk and swing thrown in for good measure. Soundman Andy made sure the warmth and crunch was just right for the ears of the masses already lining up outside. Now, I am partial to this kind of music, but I defy you to not have a good time and have your mood dramatically change when that upright bass begins to thump.
As the crowd began to make its way inside to lay claim on a seat or a spot at the bar, Imelda May, Jamie Cullum and their respective bands remained tucked away in their dressing rooms, ready to pounce on the anxious sold-out crowd.
By the way, they tore the roof off the place!