AFTER a meteoric rise in popularity which has seen her go from small clubs to performing live on the Jay Leno Show in the United States in less than three years, Imelda May is determined to make the most of her success.

The fact that she’s expecting her first child — her husband is also her guitarist Darryl Higham — doesn’t appear to be slowing her down as she prepares to bring her band to Blackpool at the end of April.

“I’m determined to finish the tour as planned,” she said. “By the time I do the final date in Ireland in June, I will be seven months pregnant so that’s time to stop. Everything’s fine at the moment, although I do seem to have this mad thing for oranges.

“I just hope people will be able to cope with me appearing with my bump.”

Albums Love Tattoo and the number one follow-up Mayhem have established Imelda as one of Ireland’s most stylish exports.

“I don’t think about what we do as being nostalgic,” she says of the band’s retro look and sound.

“How can it be nostalgic to me? We’re only young. We weren’t born back in the day.

“It’s music that I love and that I have a feel for but I want to put my own take on it.”

Imelda first came to prominence after being spotted by Jools Holland and being invited to appear on his show Later. Before starting her own band she had previously sung with blues outfit Blue Harlem and Burnley Blues Festival favourite Mike Sanchez.

“It was a big decision to go out on my own,” she said. “But I knew it was the right one.

“The last three years have been mad. I don’t think any of us has really seen home, but we all felt that when things are going well you have to go with it.

“We’ve just had a couple of months off to see everyone and do normal things but we’ll be back out on the road until June.”

The band includes drummer Steve Rushton, from Colne.

“We call him Animal,” said Imelda. “He’s an amazing drummer but he will literally roar like an animal when he’s behind the kit. We did a recording session and the engineer was asking ‘what’s that noise?’ We had to explain about Steve.”

The Blackpool date will be one of the band’s last in England.

“I’ve never been to Blackpool. Can you believe that? But my mum and dad went on honeymoon there. It’s one gig I’m really looking forward to.”

*Imelda May, Blackpool Opera House, Friday, April 27. Details from the box office on 0844 856 1111.