Dean Wareham at Islington Assembly Hall
Dean Wareham has gone through many changes since his first album in 1987 when he was still lead guitarist of the group Galaxie 500. Since then, his band has changed both name and members: from Luna in the 90s, when he met bassist Britta Philips whom he later married, to Dean and Britta (a musical duo comprised of himself and his wife) after Luna split up in 2005.
In 2013 Dean released his first solo EP Emancipated Hearts, followed by his self-titled album in March this year. Despite the frequent morphology, his music, characterised by steely electric guitars and atmospheric reverb together with his Dylan-esque smooth voice, has changed little: a bluesy and contemplative style of slowcore. His current tour of the United States and Europe included a stop-off in London last night at the Islington Assembly Hall, where a cavalcade of songs from his time with all three bands were performed for loyal fans.
The set began with Flowers – a psychedelically tinged number from 1987’s Today by Galaxie 500 – followed by equally far-out and moody Emancipated Heart and Heartless People, from his recent solo work. After wading through three classically slow pieces, he shook up the dazed audience with the up-tempo – albeit equally atmospheric – Holding Pattern, before returning to his trade-mark dreamy, textured acoustic walls of noise and soft vocals, accompanied by Britta’s whining harmonies. A few of the noteworthy tracks played were The Dancer Disappears, Love Is Colder Than Death and the tinny, melodic Tugboat, another Galaxie 500 classic.
The evening ended with the catchy Fourth of July from his 1990 album This Is Our Music, and his cover of New Order’s fantastic Ceremony, which in many respects has a similar sound to Dean’s music, save the cleaner, “reverb-less” electric guitar backup.
Many of the songs are pleasantly atmospheric on their own, and the performance was aided by the ideal acoustics of the auditorium, which amplified the artist’s typical airy sound. After a while, however, the tone became somewhat monochromatic and dull. Although one might insist that this is what dream pop is all about, listening to the music of Sigur Rós or M83 demonstrates that it’s possible to add more variety without sacrificing this very particular music style’s fundamental attributes.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information and future events visit Dean Wareham’s website here.
Watch the video for Love Is Colder Than Death here: