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Imelda May
Nokia Theatre
September 13, 2009

Written by Joshua Williams
Photographed by Amy Davidson

Opposite Photo: Imelda May


Rockabilly will never die. It has its moments of popular acceptance, and then it slithers back to the underground. Imelda May rides it back to the forefront, adding jazzier elements to the boogie-woogie. Her attitude adds the requisite element of danger to make purists proud. It would not be a stretch to hear her alongside Link Wray, Roy Orbison, and Gene Summers. She is a modern day Wanda Jackson mixed with a bit of Billie Holliday. This isn’t a singer using a style picked by a producer. She is a rockabilly chick, through and through.

The headliner of the evening was Rusted Root, I was a little wary. I’m not particularly a jam band fan, and I was worried of being bored to death with constant guitar noodling. I had not heard much of Imelda Mae. I was quite relieved when the band took the stage with a full throttle rockabilly stomp. The set opened with her best known hit, “Love Tattoo”. “Big Bad Handsome Man” delivered a punch, but it was a double bass heavy, sultry version of “Knock 123” that hooked me. The back up band was excellent. Excellent guitar work ala Scotty Moore, the double bass, which is necessary for this genre, punched in the right places. The drummer steady and ready to swing, keys and horns punctuated the mix.

She seems to have made quite an impression on the music industry lately, and her performance made quite an impression on me. I hope this Irish rockabilly queen is able to make it in the states, and I hope to see her again.

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