Dean Wareham - Live Review (Galaxie 500/Luna)

By Matthew Liam Fogg

Much alike a priest delivering a sermon to those attending mass, Dean Wareham took position at the alter of St. Pancras Old Church on Friday, guiding his faithful through glimpses of his vast musical catalogue that now spans an impressive twenty-five years.

It’s hard to describe Dean Wareham without using Dean Wareham, or his acclaimed and influential former projects in first band Galaxie 500 and the subsequently formed Luna for that matter. Though, It’s got to be said, that given his service to the art of music and his legacy, recently reinforced by way of his debut solo mini-album Emancipated Hearts, Wareham is somewhat deserving of bigger venues and a larger following. Contrastingly however, the quaint settings of the Church proved a very apt environment for his melancholic musings, brought to life in a venue so intimate you could just about make out his pick striking his strings in between the echoes of soothing tones being omitted from his amp.

 

Beginning with a duo of tracks from his latest release, including single ‘Love is Colder than Death,’ familiar are the warm, inviting chord sequences – but Wareham twins this with a distinct and more sincere vocal, different from the higher, breaking inflection he is synonymous with. The latter is aired soon after, as Wareham revisits the roots of his career-span, with ‘When Will You Come Home,’ from Galaxie 500’s career defining Today. With the track reaching it’s tail end, the White Light/White Heat era Velvet Underground-esque crescendo rings around the venue emphatically, something of an achievement given it’s a venue where sound can swirl, echo and generally be lost at every opportunity. 

Beforehand, the Church is graced with the ambience of Jason Quever, under his moniker Papercuts. Quever, armed with his acoustic guitar, plays highlights from his numerous releases before the San Franciscan later rejoins the stage to make up Wareham’s band. Another familiar face in Britta Phillips takes her place to the right hand side of Wareham and the dream-like soundings ensue.

A ripple of excitement is very much audible amongst the anticipative audience as the opening bars of ‘Strange’ are heard, before the shrill guitar lines enter and cuts through rows of excited attendees. It’s evident no stone is being left unturned, as Luna is then soon revisited by way of ‘Lost In Space,’ with it’s harmonious and subtle manner – before the gratifying chords of it’s uplifting chorus lead into the silky solo. Hopping to and fro, with a little more of Emancipated Hearts thrown in, including the graceful cover of The Incredible String Band’s ‘Air,’ Wareham’s first release with Galaxie 500, ‘Tugboat,’ makes up a setlist rewarding to long-term followers.

If more evidence that Lou Reed’s distinct ingenuity held influence over the writings of Wareham was needed, ‘Ride into the Sun,’ was chosen as the penultimate song – providing a homage to the recently deceased, and culturally homogenous to Wareham, Velvet Underground frontman.

Cultural significance may be subjective, but amongst the collective gathered at St. Pancras Old Church, the reception upon hearing the likes of Wareham’s early penned track ‘Tugboat’ and those of recent Emancipated Hearts, highlight Wareham’s musical importance. A diversely aged crowd, a portion of whom attended both London dates of the current tour, also helps pinpoint this – as a satisfied crowd dispersed from the church after their musical, and somewhat spiritual, journey.