IMELDA MAY + RACHAEL SAGE – BRIGHTON DOME 10.4.22
On a quiet Brighton Sunday night, Irish singer songwriter Imelda May brought the Brighton Dome to life with the tour of her new album ‘11 Past The Hour’. This album shows Imelda diving into her own self-image and experiences in a beautifully honest and exposed album, exploring themes of her Irish roots, her love of storytelling and the shared experience of the past few years of lockdown.
As the crowd steadily entered the venue, we were surprised to see the night as a fully seated event, since Imelda is so renowned for her rockabilly dance tunes and electric stage presence, we were unsure of the effect this would have on the evening.
At exactly 7:30pm the lights dimmed to welcome the first act of the night Rachael Sage to the stage. Rachael is a New York born songstress whose music spans across a vast range of genres, from folk to pop and touching on musical theatre style cabaret.
Joined on stage by fiddle player Kelly, Rachael sat on a multi coloured piano matching her just as colourful outfit and began to play a lyrically and musically beautiful set. Highlights of the set included a track from 2019 album ‘Blue Sky Days’, written about her experience of being diagnosed with cancer and trying to find hope in such a tough time, her emotive vocals transported the whole crowd as they sat in absolute silence soaking up the atmosphere.
Changing from piano to electric guitar Sage continued her set with the track ‘Big Star’, written about her experience running a record label in New York City. Through an encouraged singalong Rachael brought the timid crowd to life as they joined in with backing vocals and claps.
The set continued with bringing special guest “Will Wilde” onto stage to play the harmonica, Will appeared in a classic rockstar attire and added a melodic top line to Sage’s rhythmic guitar playing. Amongst the songs were sections of spoken word and poetry, with poem ‘Magenta In Bloom’ standing out as a real highlight of the set, being inspired by a painting, Rachael created such strong imagery with her words that you could almost see the painting she was describing on stage with her. She continued with more upbeat songs ‘Spark’ and ‘Sister Song’ before ending her set with an acapella tune accompanied only by the audience’s applause.
Rachael Sage setlist:
‘Blue Sky Days’
‘Sleep When I’m Tired’
‘Magenta And Blue’
‘Haunted By Objects’
After a short half an hour break it was time for Imelda May to take to the stage. Beginning the set with an atmospheric backing track, the lights dimmed to draw all attention to the spoken word intro, creating an otherworldly atmosphere in the venue. Joined on stage by her 5-piece band made up of 2 guitarists, a keys player, drummer, and bassist, Imelda unloaded her powerful vocals. The crowd seemed blown away by her singing ability as her voice came across identical to her recorded material.
Each tune was paired with matching visuals, which brought across the meaning of each song even more powerfully to create an almost spiritual atmosphere. She led straight into second song, ‘Levitate’, explaining how special it felt to be returning to Brighton as this was where her grandmother was from, continuing to tell the heart-warming story of how her grandparents met and her family came to be, expressing how spiritually she felt her in the streets and on the stage with her.
The third song of the set ‘Black Tears’ showed lead guitarist, Donny, standing out with his brilliant solos and slide playing. Following with the next track written from the perspective of a tree. This composition showed a lot more modern rock side of Imelda’s writing, which seemed to go down well with the older crowd. Exiting off stage to later return with an outfit change fitted with even more glitter than the last, she continued with rockabilly track ‘Just One Kiss’.
A highlight of the set was tenth track ‘Big Bad Handsome Man’, featuring Imelda strutting across the stage in her Louis Viton high heels. Bringing her set to a close was a duet with guitarist “Donny Little” featuring on vocals. Their blend of voices creating a beautifully intimate atmosphere between the two singers and the crowd. Despite the seated audience, by the end of her set, Imelda and the band had the whole crowd up and dancing in their chairs, creating a brilliant atmosphere to end the evening.
After the hour and a half set, she returned to the stage for the encore, starting with a cover of classic rock tune ‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’, which was dedicated to the late Meatloaf, who was a close friend of Imelda May. Her encore continued with two more tracks, before drawing the night to a close.
Imelda May setlist:
‘11 Past The Hour’
‘Just One Kiss’
‘Big Bad Handsome Man’
‘Different Kinds Of Love’
‘Don’t Let Me Stand on My Own’
‘Never Look Back’
‘Johnny Got A Boom Boom’
‘Should’ve Been You’
‘Made To Love’
‘I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’ (Meat Loaf cover)
‘Nina Cried Power’ (Hozier cover)