In the dying days of August I learned, more or less by accident, that BABY DEE would be performing in town on 16 September. It would be a special show as well, as there would be an exhibition of CHRISTINA DE VOS, the artist who was responsible for the artwork of BABY DEE's latest album, "Regifted Light".
I must admit my knowledge of BABY DEE's music is pretty limited. Apart from a show as part the DAVID TIBET curated event at 2008's Roadburn Festival I have only seen her as a member of the CURRENT 93 live line-up. I didn't own any of her albums either. So please excuse the lack of the song titles in the review as they were all new to me.
So with much curiosity I entered the small but beautiful venue. The room where the concert took place doubled as exhibition room, which was nice, as you were constantly surrounded by BABY DEE inspired artwork. The work called "I Love You, Baby Dee" was beautifully positioned behind the drum kit. A billboard-sized replica of this work can be seen outside the Rotterdam station until December.
Opening for BABY DEE was DOUG TIELLI, someone I must admit I had never heard of before. He was joined by another guy (RYAN DRIVER, I learned later) on synthesizer, flute and piano. It was the first gig of the tour and he admitted to being a bit nervous. But he pulled it off just right. The first three songs where played on a 12-string acoustic guitar and sounded really good. After those, he switched to an electric guitar. The first song he played on it wasn't really my cup of tea, but everything he played after that was once again much more to my liking. He also switched to the trombone for some songs. Towards the end of the show, the two were joined by ALEX NEILSON on drums and JOE CARVELL on bass. A very solid opener for the night.
During the break I learned DOUG TIELLI couldn't sell copies of his debut album that night as they were destroyed in the fire of the Sony/PIAS building during last Summer's riots in London and they needed to be repressed.
After a short break, all of the above mentioned musicians took the stage again: ALEX NEILSON on drums, DOUG TIELLI on guitar, trombone and a saw, JOE CARVELL on bass guitar and upright bass and RYAN DRIVER on synthesizer and flute. And then the wonderful BABY DEE took the stage. During the night, she would play the grand piano and the harp. She felt right at home, was very chatty between songs, telling nice stories but above all, her music really blew me away. The addition of the other musicians gave her music a real cabaret-like feeling at times. This was quite different from the music I heard before and the previous time I saw her at Roadburn. The show was over before we knew it, time really flew by. Luckily she came back with the band for an encore. But still, the crowd didn't have enough and she came back a second time, unaccompanied by the others this time. And she clearly didn't prepare for it as she was figuring out what to play right there behind her piano.
After the show, there was plenty of time to chat with all involved (including CHRISTINA DE VOS, who was there as well) and I took my first step in collecting BABY DEE by purchasing "The Robin's Tiny Throat". All in all a very successful evening.