Mediæval Bæbes in E. Hartford, CT, Halloween (eve)
[music | David J. - Frosted Glass]
Let's get one thing straight from the outset. I refuse to keep pasting "Mediæval Bæbes" because I'm too stupid to learn how to make a swell "æ". I am changing to Mediaeval Baebes forthwith.
Mediaeval Baebes are one we never thought we'd see. Lots of that this year with Nick Cave, New York Dolls, DEVO, Tom Tom Club, etc. This was a long awaited show.
Natalie and I came to their music from opposite directions. I knew Miranda Sex Garden because they were popular with BDSM/Fetish people and Goth/Darkwave people, Natalie came from Mediaeval Baebes and worked her way back to Mirandas. Mediaeval Baebes for those not familiar are seemingly much more popular with the Ren-Fair(e) Dork(e)s than the Ball-Gag Dorks. They're also exceedingly popular at Christmas, as well as with various self-made-pagans. Founded by Katherine Blake, the idea here is that she (not sure how much input anyone else has here) will find poetry, stories and fairy tales in various, largely dead, languages and adapt them to choral arrangement. It's pretty damn genius. Since no one really knows Middle English, Medieval Spanish, Cornish or Latin, no one much knows what liberties need to be taken (if any) to make this all fit together so beautifully.
So the formula is:
1:) Find beautiful lyric poetry that no one can understand anyway.
2:) Find some very pretty women with perfect voices to perform it.
Step 2 is probably harder than it seems.
They did explain some of the songs so the audience wasn't completely in the dark. The clear favorite was The Sour Grove, written and performed in Medieval Welsh. The story was basically this: 600 years ago there was a Welsh woman who, tired of hearing men go on and on about how pure and angelic women are, decided to write a poem about the one magical part of a woman's body that seems to be completely overlooked by these male poets. A Welsh -> English translator I found online didn't make a whole lot of sense of the lyrics, but the basic broad strokes were covered, the longest English phrase that contains a subject and a verb ends up being "greet the loin acid", so I'd guess the story is true enough.
They sounded beautiful, had lots of fun costume changes (I liked the "Sexy Druids" bit), but really just to sit there with your eyes closed and be surrounded by it was perfect. They sounded great, and the band sounded great. The band whose names I can't remember and who I got almost no decent pictures of. My favorite part of the night was during a Katherine Blake solo piece. They're performing barefoot with long, flowing dresses (or druidic robes), so her feet were sticking out just slightly. When she hit her higher notes, her toes curled back in exactly the same way that your toes curl back listening to her hit those notes.
The sound at the East Hartford Community Cultural Center was a huge contributor to our enjoyment of this show, I have to add. Things you'd forgive seeing some punk band at the Paradise would have really wrecked this kind of show, but the sound was just perfect. They seem to have some cool shows coming up, and everyone should check it out. I'd say the seats there are more comfortable than any in Boston, though the Opera House is nice.
If you live somewhere that they or Katherine Blake play often, and you don't go, you should move away so someone else can have a chance. We might even suck it up and go to the Maryland ren-fest if they play next year, there will be better pictures I promise, and even though my punk-rock-berzerker-industrial ass would feel justifiably stupid and out of place at a ren-fest, at least I'd have a turkey leg to gnaw on.
There's a Flickr set here with more pics. They pretty much all came out like shit because I really didn't think things through, but these are my favorites: