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SWEET BABOO / ED DOWIE | LIVE REVIEW

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sweet baboo - 1.12.17SWEET BABOO / ED DOWIE | LIVE REVIEW

4stars

 

Transport Club, Cardiff, Fri 1 Dec

As one venue dies, another springs up. Thanks to the tenacity of a small crew of DIY promoters (you know who you are), Riverside’s Transport Club has played host to a heap of exciting gigs this year. If you’ve not patronised one yet, step to it please.

To make it even easier for your diary-planning purposes (or maybe he just really likes the cheap Caffreys they sell?), Sweet Baboo booked himself in for two dates as part of a tour promoting his sixth album Wild Imagination. On this one he brought along lovely Ed Dowie, an ex-chorister and organist whose debut album was released earlier this year on the Isle Of Eigg’s enigmatic Lost Map label. His ethereal sound from a processed piano is accompanied by witty and sometimes dark lyrics; though musically very different, it reminded me a lot of Richard Dawson’s warm humour and slight awkwardness.

Cardiff has born witnesses to the many (brilliant) faces of SB over time, from messy, wine-fuelled solo acoustic shows to outright pop. The latest album feels like a back-to-the-drawing-board sort of record and the live set reflects this: a streamlined setup, featuring Rob and Paul Jones whose impressive instrumental versatility leads to a lot of instrument juggling.

The night is disco-funk-rock’n’roll good times. Opening with Wild Imagination’s lead track, highlights include the boogie-woogie piano at the core of tonight’s rendition of If I Died and the disco synth party of Pink Rainbow. There were some covers as well, an apparent appetite-whetter for the second Cardiff date: Jonathan Richman and Thin Lizzy got the SB treatment and one fared better than the other.

His between-song chat is as joyous as the songs themselves, with anecdotes about Wednesday morning badminton and a shout out for Leckwith (a first in my gigging experience, I think…). At the start of the night I was moaning because I didn’t know where I go for my dancing kicks – Sweet Baboo fulfilled the need of these dancing feet.

words GRACE TODD photos OLIVER CASTELL

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