June 9, 2012: Baby Jane Dexter gave the BRAVEST performance I have ever witnessed at her 7pm show Saturday night at the Metropolitan Room. Taking the stage mid run in the five performance reprise of her critical acclaimed “Still Bad, Still Blue,” at the Metropolitan Room, where she premiered the show last November, she apologized for the broken air-conditioner and sweltering heat, which you felt immediately upon entering the club only to discover the heat was much worse inside. Baby Jane laughed off the heat saying “I usually like it freezing. However she demonstrated a shaky but strong quality in her singing. Since she sounded strong and in charge, her voice filled with the raw emotion that characterizes her best work. Stephen Holden writing in the NY Times said of Dexter, “vocally, Ms. Dexter has the power of a mighty gospel singer with the will to move heaven and earth. As the evening progressed her will became more and more evident.
With Music Director Ross Patterson on piano Dexter has come up with an inventive song list that includes numbers she did 17 years ago at club 88 in a show called Big Bad & Blue that ran for 18 consecutive months. Then nearing the end of her show just after she delivered a memorable Abbey Lincoln classic “Throw It Away” with an echo of spiritual advise, then mid-way through “Those Eyes,” she took a few steps backward and said “I better sit down before I fall down; I’m going to pass out.” And with that she fell to the floor stunning the audience!
Help rushed to the stage bringing ice, cold towels and fans in attempt to make her comfortable and paramedics were called. About 15 minutes later after two EMT men had arrived and more or less revived her she was still sitting on the floor uncertain about getting to her feet, but her will was such that she wanted to sing more and scooted to the edge of the stage where she delivered a haunting, completely reconceived version of “The Way We Were.” The moments in the song were breathtaking as she stripped the lyrics of any sentimental nostalgia. The paramedics then lifted her into an orange chair they had brought, which ironically matched her outfit, and she blew the room away with ‘If That Isn’t Love.” The Lady is nothing if not indomitable. The paramedics said she was done or she would have sung another song.
Baby Jane Dexter was holding court at the front door when I left with the paramedics still waiting to escort her to the waiting van. She continues her show STILL BAD, STILL BLUE, at the Metropolitan Room, 34 West 22nd Street between 5th and 6th Avenue on Friday June 22,, and Friday June 29 @ 7pm. For reservations call 212-206-0440.
By Patrick Christiano
Photograph: Barry Gordin
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