Dean Wareham is almost falling asleep in his sushi.
The tour’s only been going on for a couple of days but he’s already knackered out from poor sleep. Wife/bandmate Britta Phillips jokes that he might keel over, and I suggest fashioning a long, sharp stick for during the Biltmore Cabaret gig later. He won’t trifle with Red Bull, he says, but we do find ourselves after dinner, queuing at the nearby pharmacist to see if ephedrine is still a thing in Canada. Of course, we all know about that wannabe stuff, pseudo-ephedrine, but Dean wants the real, naturalish stimulant. After all, if drummer Roger Brogan can pick up some Tylenol with codeine over the counter here, surely we can get some ephedra. But alas. “It was discontinued,” he says, disappointed. So we remove ourselves from Shoppers Drug Mart and head back to the venue.
But it doesn’t really matter if Dean sounds sleepy. Not for us, anyway. His voice, a gooey blend of New Zealand, Boston and New York drawl, has always been a bit dreamy anyway. Let’s face it: you’re not worth your indie rock cred if you’ve never wanted to drift off to Dean at some point in your life.
Wareham hasn’t been back to Vancouver in a few years – the last time playing Galaxie 500 tunes – and it’s “Flowers” that he starts up with in Vancouver, peering over his glasses, and launching into history. The small but rapt crowd gently exhales in a collective joy. That voice! That guitar! And basically it’s all onward, blissfully, from there. We lay bets in our minds as to which Luna tracks he’ll play.
There are buckets of new songs from his Emancipated Hearts EP and his new, self-titled solo. The title track from EH is there, as is “Heartless People”, “The Dancer Disappears”, “Holding Pattern” (with that brittle, falsetto referencing not only “Kansas, Boston, Toto, Journey” but lamenting “Living in a holding pattern/This is not my home/Stuck inside a drop-down menu/This is not my choice.”), the beautiful “Love is Not a Roof Against the Rain” and “Babes in the Woods” among them. I whisper to a friend, “I JUST WANT HIM TO PLAY FOREVER,” and it’s true.
All of the songs are lush, filled out with smoky harmonies and warm bass by Britta. Flanked by drummer Brogan (who also plays with Spectrum), and guitarist Raymond Richards (who’s played with Mojave 3, Hope Sandoval and the Brian Jonestown Massacre), the four-piece unflash-ily serve up lovely songs. And then, four of those songs in,…really? Can it be? LUNA?
“Tiger Lily” blooms, and we swoon. “Moon Palace” is in there, too. Then their classic cover, a Beat Happening song that Luna pretty much replaced, “Indian Summer” wraps the set. It’s almost like the best parts of the mid-90s all over again. Galaxie 500’s otherworldly “Tugboat” ends the encore and we all drift off, blissfully.
But Dean, Dean’s still up. Which is good because I just want to listen to him forever. \m/