Review: Dean & Britta @ The Variety Playhouse
The setting: A gorgeous Spring evening in the heart of Atlanta's "Little Five Points" neighborhood. The Variety Playhouse is an old movie house that was made into an intimate music venue years ago. It is a unique theater with traditional rows of seats in the center of the room and round cocktail tables on the sides. In front of the stage is a fairly expansive place to stand yet this area does not obstruct the view of the music for everyone behind it. There is also a cozy balcony in the back that provides a wonderful view. In short, the Variety Playhouse is one of my favorite venues for music in the city. The capacity of the room holds approximately 700-800 patrons. Every now and then when a mainstream or internationally known act comes to Atlanta they might play the Variety Playhouse for kicks, usually tickets are announced and sold out the day of the show. The Black Crowes, The Allman Brothers Band, John Mayer, The Kinks, Elton John and scores of others have all graced the stage of the Variety Playhouse. It equally allows newer acts to showcase their wares in a nice, roomy setting.
Dean & Britta went onstage and opened with "Singer Sing" at 9:30pm to a very small crowd unfortunately. There were probably 150 people in attendance for this show. Great for the fans, of course but probably mundane for a working band traveling throughout the United States trying to make a living. Reminded me of some of the comments made in the film "Tell Me Do You Miss Me" where Sean Eden explains the painful economics of touring. So while I lamented the fact that Dean & Britta didn't sell out the venue, I relished in the fact that I was there! I have been waiting patiently for this show since Luna passed through in 2004 and I was determined to have a great time with friends. Mission accomplished!
The sound was fantastic. Lara contributed assorted keyboards and guitar to fill out the texture of these songs. She has a very keen ear for sound dynamics. She "graces" the music with an even balance of presence and assimilation.
Britta, as always, was rock solid on bass and her vocal parts were gorgeous. In fact "You Turn My Head Around" was chillingly impassioned. Her harmonies are for the ages. Simply brilliant.
New drummer, Anthony LaMarca, has an understated old school jazzy style. Very complementary to the music and definitely has Lee Wall looking over his shoulder. He did a fine job with his orange 4-piece kit.
What can you say about Dean? He looked great and sounded great. He has a few new toys of his own as well and delivered the songs with grace and style. Of course the material was varied and this night in particular nodded toward the LUNA songbook towards the latter half. I even coaxed Dean to play the intro to Black Postcards but alas, he stated that Anthony didn't know it. I beckoned that I knew it and would play it! No dice.
So here we have our husband and wife troubadours meandering about through the eastern U.S.A. in support of a wonderful new record. LUNA fans will love this show yet feel a distant affinity to hear Sean Eden playing in their head during the older material in the repertoire. On the other hand, the material from both D&B albums is delivered beautifully! "Knives From Bavaria", "Words You Used To Say" and "The Sun Is Still Shiny were the "anchors" of this show in a respect. More power to them.
Not too worry, all of the songs on the buffet are delivered with Dean & Britta's re-assurance that these songs are loved about as much as we the "fans" love them.