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Dean Wareham Forges His Own Way at The Bowery Ballroom

April 7th, 2014

Dean Wareham – The Bowery Ballroom – April 5, 2014

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As a member of Galaxie 500 and Luna, Dean Wareham established himself as a quintessential part of the New York City music scene beginning in the late ’80s. And after a recent West Coast move (with his wife and longtime bandmate, Britta Phillips), Wareham returned to The Bowery Ballroom on Saturday night for a show in support of his new self-titled solo album, produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James.

“It’s good to be back,” acknowledged Wareham before noting, “I forgot that you can wait a long time for the D train on a Saturday.” This type of bittersweet observation runs throughout the lyrics of his new record, on songs like “Heartless People,” “Holding Pattern” and “Happy & Free,” which tackle some heavy emotions and general ennui with restraint and touch of wry humor. Performed live, the new material bore some of the sonic touchstones of Wareham’s work with his early bands—a hazy, dreamy wash of guitars blanketing the singer’s soft voice.

With Phillips by his side, Wareham and the band took the opportunity to play some Luna numbers during the set, including “Tiger Lily,” “Moon Palace” and “Lost in Space,” and they also threw in some Galaxie 500 pieces for good measure, like crowd-pleasers “When Will You Come Home” “Tugboat” and “Strange.” Despite the understated melancholy that pervades much of Wareham’s material, the show felt like a celebration of an expansive musical catalog that has sustained fans for nearly 30 years. With his new album, Wareham seems to be in a fruitful creative space, drawing on influences from the course of his career as he forges his own way. —Alena Kastin