Mediaeval Baebes: 25th Anniversary Concert

It is the last few days of the unending spring chill; we are nonetheless warmed by the red wine that we sip in anticipation for the Mediaeval Baebes, as well as the cosy charm of the Actor’s Church (St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden). 

Formed in May 1996, this concert celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Ivor Novello award-winning group, who are behind the title theme for TV’s Victoria.  One of their biggest fans, Iggy Pop, has also previously invited them on to his BBC Radio 6 Christmas show.

Presented by Iris Theatre, the Mediaeval Baebes perform a concert to mark 25 years since being founded by Dorothy Carter and Katherine Blake. Through the years, they have taken on many incarnations with a changing ensemble. Tonight, we are enchanted by Katherine Blake, Marie Findley, Fiona Fey, Anna Pool, Josephine Ravenheart and Sophia Halberstam.

The Baebes are dressed in extravagant headdresses of leaves, flowers and horns; long flowing dresses of vibrant emerald or sharp black, alternatively. You can’t help but notice the celestial glow around their heads as the stage lighting catches their hair.  The concert begins with songs of an earthier kind: hypnotising, inspiriting harmony; flutes; melodies punctuated  with a flick of a tambourine and drums, and even instrumental breaks for one of the singers to bunch her dress at her knees to tap dance on the spot. 

There is then a very short intermission : just enough time to take another swig of wine for a mouth that is parched from being left agape with wonderment. 

They return swiftly in champagne-coloured dresses with melodies that are more somber and doleful. It is really a perfect encapsulation of the medieval age, from a modern perspective : an age with pagan hangovers,  simpler revelries, deep wisdom and gothic fantasy, as well as of tragedy and barbarism.

The Mediaeval Baebes offer an odyssey through the plains of ancient tales of tragedy, love and a deep adoration of music and dance. Just as their voices effortlessly harmonise with one another, their limbs form simple shapes in a pleasing synchronisation. Each song is introduced with a short re-telling of an old story, often peppered with contemporary humour.

Their new album, Prayers of the Rosary, is out now, and can be purchased on their website.


Feature image courtesy of @Mediaevalbaebes Instagram

To see more from Iris Theatre:

Theatre Editor

Help us produce quality journalism

London Student is not supported by any university or students' union. All our activity is funded by donations.