LIVE: Sean Rowe & Babe City @ Steamer No. 10 Theatre, 3/17/12

Sean Rowe
Sean Rowe

Review and photographs by Kirsten Ferguson. See more of Kirsten’s photos from this show here.

“We’re Babe City, but he’s like Babe USA,” joked Olivia Quillio onstage when her all-female supergroup Babe City opened up for songwriter/heartthrob Sean Rowe at Steamer No. 10 Theatre.

“Babe International” would even apply to Rowe these days, as the Troy native has been around the world and back since signing to Anti- Records, a label he shares with musical heavyweights like Merle Haggard, Tom Waits and Bettye LaVette.

The singer-woodsman-survivalist with a soulful, bluesy bellow, a wry sense of humor and an intensity behind the eyes had his acclaimed album “Magic” re-released by Anti- last year. Since then, he’s recorded a new album, “Signs,” (with members of Railbird) slated for release this summer.

Alone onstage at Steamer No. 10, toting an acoustic guitar decorated with strips of multi-colored duct tape, Rowe unveiled new tunes from “Signs” in front of a sold-out and quietly reverent hometown crowd – including a pair of unadorned, striking new songs, “Bring Back the Night” and title-track “Signs.”

He reached back to “Magic” for the dark-sky ballad “Night” and the smoky-throated “Old Black Dodge,” in addition to playing a handful of covers that included a swampy version of R.L. Burnside’s primal “Goin’ Down South” and a wailing cover of Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” that elicited fan-club-worthy female shrieks from the audience when it closed the show.

Openers Babe City – a group featuring local singer-songwriters Quillio, Meagan Duffy, MaryLeigh Roohan and Caroline Corrigan – were playing only their second official gig, but they’ve already landed their own Steamer No. 10 headlining show for the fall (Saturday, October 20).

The instrument-swapping combo lived up to their quick-rising acclaim on a charming, harmony-fueled set that included Duffy’s “Ruined,” Corrigan’s “Fairweather,” Roohan’s “Coward,” Quillio’s “Weight/Wait” and a heart-rending rendition of traditional spiritual “Mary, Don’t You Weep.”

The night was part of the Michael Eck-hosted “Eclectic Performance Series” at Steamer No. 10 Theatre, which closes its first run of well-curated concerts this weekend with performances by Rosary Beard and Winterpills (Friday) and Frank Jaklitsch & Friends (Saturday).

Babe City: Caroline Corrigan, MaryLeigh Roohan and Meg Duffy
Babe City: Caroline Corrigan, MaryLeigh Roohan and Meg Duffy
Babe City's Caroline Corrigan and Olivia Quillio
Babe City's Caroline Corrigan and Olivia Quillio
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