Working mum Imelda May still undeniably cool in Cork

It was a packed-out tent at the Marquee, with an all-ages Saturday night crowd clad in rockabilly dresses and super-styled fringes as Imelda May came to town.

Working mum Imelda May still undeniably cool in Cork

It was a packed-out tent at the Marquee, with an all-ages Saturday night crowd clad in rockabilly dresses and super-styled fringes as Imelda May came to town.

I brought along a non-Irish friend on Saturday night – a friend who had never heard of her before. After a single song, she turned to me and said: "I love her."

That, in a nutshell, is Imelda's draw - an unassailable cool factor. She's such a strong stage presence that she could hold the crowd's attention all by herself. Thankfully, she doesn't have to.

As the house lights dimmed at 9.10pm, her band strolled on stage and began to jam - but Imelda let the crowd sit for a minute before she strutted out on stage, launching straight into some upbeat numbers including Tribal, Big Bad Handsome Man, and Wild Woman.

Between, she mixed in a few slow songs, including Little Pixie - a song written by her brother as a poem for her child's christening, which she adapted to music.

That kind wholesomeness goes against traditional rock n' roll image, but it doesn't matter. In a band with her husband and telling the crowd stories about her baby drawing all over the hotel furniture with markers, Imelda was still undeniably cool.

And the slow songs were a welcome break from what was, largely, a rockin' night, with gems like It's Good To Be Alive taking on a whole new energy with a crowd singing along, and Hellfire Club, with Imelda - in her fantastic Dublin accent - explaining the background of the capital's most famous den of sin to the Cork audience.

The crowd, despite being a mix of all ages, was hugely energetic throughout the night - not least when they finished strong with a stomping rendition of Johnny Got A Boom Boom.

The encore was "given away" by the setting up of a ukulele for slow and soulful Dreaming - dedicated to a fan in the audience - but the real show followed with Clew Bay – featuring the actual Clew Bay Pipe Band.

Then, ramping up for a big finish, she poured all the remaining energy into 50s-rock inspired Right Amount of Wrong - leaving a buzzing crowd to wind their way home from the big top.

Live at the Marquee continues at Cork Docklands until July 15. Tickets for many of the events can still be purchased from Ticketmaster and usual outlets.

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