Imelda May ready to rock the Independent in San Francisco tonight 

If it seems like Celtic rockabilly kitten Imelda May — who’s playing the Independent in San Francisco tonight — was just here, well, it’s true — she was. Singing alongside her old pal Jeff Beck (with whom she played the Grammys last year, in a Les Paul/Mary Ford tribute) in his retro-themed gig at the Fillmore.

But we can’t get enough of her, so naturally the show is sold out. But this time she’s backing her just-released sophomore set “Mayhem,” with hiccup-slapback tracks like “Psycho,” Sneaky Freak” and a rollicking cover of the old (Soft Cell-reinterpreted) soul hit, “Tainted Love.”

And this time around, May really cuts loose, stylistically and vocally.

“Because I knew what I wanted to do,” she explains of the extra oomph crackling across “Mayhem.” “I’d written way too many songs, actually, so I sorted through the stronger stuff that would fit well together, because I really wanted to get the balance of the album right. And I knew what sound I wanted to have on it, and I knew I wanted to push it a little further with this one. But I wanted to keep the charm from the first album, too, and I have a terrific band. So this time I wanted people to hear the band in all their glory, and I’m very happy with how ‘Mayhem’ turned out.” A case only strengthened by the fact that May’s husband, Darrel Higham, anchors her outfit on lead guitar.

We hope you true believers out there have already pounced on a ticket for tonight. If not, keep up with her at

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Tom Lanham

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