Belfast Telegraph

Imelda May review: Singing superstar turns up volume at Ulster Hall

By Alf McCreary

The eagerly-awaited visit of Imelda May to Belfast on Saturday brought a capacity audience to the Ulster Hall, with huge numbers standing patiently on the ground floor to greet their heroine on stage at 9.20pm, in a concert due to have started some 80 minutes earlier.

Imelda May is not just a great singer but also a musical phenomenon, who burst on to the scene with her raucous debut Love Tattoo five years ago, followed in 2010 by her multi-award-winning album Mayhem.

She now deservedly rubs shoulders with such luminaries as Jools Holland and Bono, and her album Tribal has maintained her high standards. The Belfast concert was a pilgrimage to the faithful who enthused loudly over her familiar Hellfire Club and other favourites.

She was especially impressive in her hymn to survival, To be Alive, and she riffed superbly with the audience to show her skill as an entertainer as well as a singer.

The faithful loved it, but the major drawback for others was the massive wall of sound from her backing group, that almost drowned out her front-stage performance and left little scope for subtleties.

Imelda May has such a superb range and empathy with the depth of her music that it was a pity that she had to belt out so much on the high decibel scale.

Without doubt she is a superstar, but perhaps best appreciated in a more intimate atmosphere.

Three stars

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