Tuesday, March 13th, 2007
Our Love Will Still Be There
It seems appropriate that I’m writing this in Chicago’s O’Hare airport because it was here in Chi-town in November 0f 2004 that I saw Luna for the final time, having taken what was probably the closest thing I ever will to a rock’n’roll pilgrimage and following their farewell tour south of the border. The previous week, I watched them walk off the stage at Lee’s Palace, expecting that it would be the last time I’d ever seen Dean Wareham in our fair town again. Though it was known that the Dean & Britta project would be continuing post-Luna, I didn’t really expect that it’d turn into a full touring proposition – from the sounds of it, Dean was more than tired with life on the road. But I guess two and a half years is long enough to re-evaluate because last night Mr Wareham and Ms Phillips once again graced the 416 and boy howdy – it was nothing short of amazing.
Josh Reichmann, formerly of Tangiers but now fronting an outfit called The Jewish Legend opened things up and you certainly couldn’t say they were conventional. The trio seemed to be assembled from a singer/guitarist who wanted to play hyper-fast acoustic folk, a saxophonist/flautist/keyboardist who wanted to play free jazz and a drummer who just wanted to rock out – and all decided to meet halfway and form a punk band. Interesting stuff but on this evening, just time-filler before the much-anticipated main attraction.
The band strode onstage at 10:15 sharp, and then beat a hasty retreat back to the wings having realized they’d broken one of the codes of rock showmanship. The second time, their drummer and keyboardist (the wonderful Lara Meyerratken) came onstage first and took their places, followed by Ms Phillips and then finally, Dean Wareham. They began appropriately with a set of the Dean & Britta material, benefiting from a terrific sound mix, bathed in warm coloured lights and with Wareham and Phillips trading vocals on “Singer Sing”. “Night Nurse”. But after Britta dazzled on “You Turned My Head Around”, Dean began an unexpected and familiar guitar rhythm. “Moon Palace”. I’d known they were going to be playing Luna material on this tour but I expected a token song or two from the later albums. Not “Moon Palace”, and yet here it was – sounding slightly different, obviously, yet still amazing. Dean handled all the guitar solos himself and while I’d never say Sean Eden was unnecessary… on this night, his absence wasn’t felt.
After that unexpected visit from the past, they returned to the D&B repertoire with numbers like winesome “The Sun Is Still Sunny” and lush “Knives From Bavaria” and then, once again, bam. “Chinatown”. Then “Tiger Lily”, with Meyerratken handling rhyhtm guitar duties for what was probably the first time (she played fine but lookeed more than a bit nervous about the role). Then back into the Galaxie 500 songbook for “Strange” (so strange to hear Dean’s older, more refined voice wrapping itself a song recorded so long ago) and the finale, expected but totally welcome, of “Bonnie & Clyde”. A glorious, glorious set made more remarkable by the fact that they managed to time it for one hour exactly. The encore – there was no way this crowd of devotees was letting them go just yet – was Wareham’s career in condensed form. Starting with “Ginger Snaps” from L’Avventura, then the title track from my favourite Luna album Bewitched, and finally with maybe the seminal G500 song, “Tugboat”. And then a final wave and goodbye.
Though Dean & Britta, the band, is unequivocally a partnership between Phillips and Wareham, the live show is still very much about Dean. The set lists they’re choosing brings him up to the mic far more than he has been in their recent studio efforts, there’s so much more guitarwork (and he’s gotten himself some sharp new guitars, let me tell you) and the audience – well, let’s just say they weren’t johnny-come-latelies. It was so great to see and hear a band that’s obviously not Luna, but also doesn’t feel the need to prove it. Dean had a sense of pride in his body of work and appreciation for the fans that was obvious to everyone in attendance and while I don’t know what anyone else’s expectations were, I can say that mine were fairly high and were still exceeded many times over. It might well be the fanboy in me talking, but that was one of the absolute best nights of music I can remember for a long time. So. Best. Long live Luna.
Dean & Britta assessed other musical husband-and-wife duos for The Boston Globe.
Photos: Dean & Britta, The Jewish Legend @ The Mod Club – March 12, 2007
MP3: Dean & Britta – “Words You Used To Say”
MP3: Dean & Britta – “Singer Sing”
Video: Dean & Britta – “Words You Used To Say” (YouTube)
MySpace: Dean & Britta
Stream Neil Young’s Live At Massey Hall, out today. Go on, stream it.
Stream: Neil Young / Live At Massey Hall
Trespassers William are taking pre-orders for their new EP The Noble House, with an eye towards shipping them out around the first week of April. You can stream one of the new tracks on their MySpace and also check out Anna-Lynn Williams’ own MySpace as she’s got a cover of Interpol’s “Leif Erikson” posted.
Some show announcements – Arctic Monkeys and Be Your Own Pet will be at the Kool Haus on May 11 and Kings Of Leon are there June 12. And Interpol have announced a Canadian tour, bypassing Toronto but playing Kitchener. The Mennonites must be thrilled.
Hi from the departure lounge at O’Hare, by the way. Hooray for 3 hour layovers, and by “hooray” I mean “boo”.