“I can’t believe I haven’t had a wee once,” announces Liberties belle Imelda May halfway through her performance.

Seven months into her pregnancy, that detail seems like the least remarkable thing about this gig. Playing for well over 90 minutes, May’s condition offered not the slightest hindrance as she growled, yelped and crooned through a typically energetic and spirited performance.

“When we booked this gig I did not know this was going to be going on,” she said, pointing at her bump.

The embodiment of sassiness and attitude, May has forged a deep rapport with her audience through her lack of artifice and pretension. She has proved herself a canny artist by transcending the rockabilly genre from which she and guitarist husband Darrel Higham emerged, by absorbing elements of jazz, blues, soul, gospel, rock ’n’ roll and plain old pop.

Cover versions ranged from the Everly Brothers’ take on Bing Crosby’s Temptation — May and Higham capturing their wall-of-sound vocals — to Gloria Jones’s 1965 soul staple Tainted Love. But the highlight had to be the cover of Baby, I Love You, during which May, accompanied on ukulele by bassist Al Gare, broke into “you’ll never beat the Irish”. A national treasure.

— Don O’Mahony

More in this section

Puzzles logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Ireland's best off-road cycling trails. Volume 2 of our series.



The best food, health, entertainment and lifestyle content from the Irish Examiner, direct to your inbox.

Sign up