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Whippet out – Imelda May, Glasgow ABC

Dark coat, whiskey and a lingering sense of drama – yes, it’s ELMs sonic preacher man HowlinWhippet out and about again. This time, he seeks sanctuary from the Brits with a trip to an artist on that first upswing of success.

I first came across Imelda May one night (ooh er) whilst watching the Glastonbury coverage a couple of years ago on TV. She appeared on one of those little “in the bar” vignettes, playing acoustic-like with only her guitarist (and partner) accompanying her. It was truly one of those eureka moments.

Here was a woman outwith the then-current trends for electropop, looking a bit like a downhome 50’s starlet. She was playing energetic, clever songs with a hefty bit of rockabilly twang and with an ASTONISHING voice.

I missed her first couple of Glasgow shows due to a variety of factors so was anticipating this one highly. Mrs Whippet was even dragged away from The Brits coverage on TV. The sold-out ABC is generally a great venue, but tonight it’s a bit lacklustre. I guess when an act starts to cross over into the mainstream, the Dire Straits crowd start to come out.

I can’t fault Imelda or her band, who are fantastic musicians, but the set is a trifle one-dimensional and lacking a spark. There’s the awesome Love Tattoo and a cover of Train Kept A-Rollin’ early in the set, but the audience seem to be standing around doing the old “ok, entertain me” bit.

I cant quite put my finger on it, but singer and band don’t appear to be making much of a connection with the crowd. They play a lengthy gospel-Noo Orleans style song with a call and response part, clearly designed for this summer’s festivals. The audience participation part is woeful. I’m looking round and seeing people (myself included) yawning widely.Never, ever a good sign.

So maybe a bad night on a long tour, but I leave mighty disappointed. On current record form, Imelda May will definitely be a contender for next years TV awards shows, but I’ll be in watching her there rather than out watching her here.

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