Review: Dean & Britta play Galaxie 500 in London

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I wear my being a fan thing right out there on my sleeve (or on the web, or at the very least on my chest) which means there are some things you do that don't need to be explained - "I'm a fan" is all you need to say - just like the girls who screamed at The Beatles - there doesn't need to be a reason to scream... it's what you do.

Dean & Britta play Galaxie 500

Yesterday Dean & Britta were in London to play a "Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500" show at The Garage - at work the day stretched interminably ahead of me and the idea that the afternoon meetings about digital identifiers and content management systems could be a much needed distraction seemed unlikely.

At 1:33pm an email arrived from Dean Wareham, see paragraph one for why that simple phrase is a ridiculous buzz without even considering the email's contents - the contents were mostly about trying to find someone to work the merchandise table at the show but the important paragraph read...

If you have time to kill and feel like stopping by to say hello, we'll be at the Garage from 3:30 to 6 doing our sound check.

I checked my calendar "digital identifiers", "CMS", or hanging out with Dean & Britta while they soundchecked - see paragraph one for why that was a no-brainer!

I volunteered to man the merch table not because I particularly wanted to, or because I'd be any good at it, but because I could... in the end the venue supplied a staff member for the job and I thankfully wasn't required. But by then I had already skipped out before the end of the first meeting and wangled my way out of the second one... and was on a train.

I arrived at The Garage and eventually found my way into the venue through a fire exit at the back - slipping in with the band that were playing upstairs. I parked myself at the back of the hall and watched the band soundcheck... see paragraph one for why that was like being in a dream. Of course to the band and the engineers a soundcheck is a technical process not an artistic one but being virtually alone in a room while Dean Wareham sang Decomposing Trees was something that even now seems like something that couldn't really have happened. Luckily I sneakily snapped a picture just to prove it... to myself - it's less of a picture and more of a "pinch"

Dean & Britta sound check

After the soundcheck was over we all hung around in the hall, I got to meet Matt and Jason, and chat with Dean & Britta about all manner of trivial things such as Kindles, and Keith Richards, and... digital identifiers!

The venue was cold and the band were heading off to eat so I nipped out to find a warm coffee shop just as the venue started to fill up. I returned in time to catch Young Prisms play a set of rather good noisy guitar wash with indecipherable vocals.

I have expressed reservations about Dean & Britta playing these songs (or more accurately just one or two of these songs) but I've pretty much come down on the side of it works for me, it works for them and it harms no one so lets just get down and enjoy it... and that's exactly what I did.

The set was pretty much what they've been playing on the other dates of this tour - the sound was a bit messy to start with, so Snowstorm wasn't as perfect as it might have been but by four or five songs in the sound and the band were pretty much in the groove. Not complete and not in order but... Flowers, Pictures, Temperature's Rising, Snowstorm, Plastic Bird, When Will You Come Home, Decomposing Trees, Strange, Tugboat, Blue Thunder, Fourth of July... the set was strewn with covers, but covers that Galaxie 500 have made their own and no one covers like Dean Wareham does - Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste, Listen, the Snow Is Falling. They encored with I'll Keep it With Mine (the one stray non-Galaxie 500 song) and then were heckled into Cheese and Onions, before playing an awesome Ceremony to close the set.

Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500

Band left the stage, and I drifted home in a heavenly daze.

Now maybe there are discussions to be had (by fans) about whether or not Dean should be doing this, living on past glories - and maybe with all these other bands reforming there's the additional pressure of why do a "covers band" rather than reform the original... but we know that's not going to happen... and the plain fact of he matter is that this works - I know last night wasn't Galaxie 500 but I also know that what I saw last night was a treat and I won't forget it in a hurry. See paragraph one for why.

On Fire | 30

A 30th anniversary celebration of Galaxie 500's masterpiece

On Fire 30 CD sleeve (design: John Conley)
Buy On Fire | 30