Dean & Britta: New, Old, and Wistful
As my wife and I walked into the quiet venue to the opening sounds of vibraphonist Sean McCaul, we could hear the delicate clanking of forks, voices whispering, and the sonorous vibes echoing relaxing notes into the dining area. The venue was set up like a dining hall tonight with tables with groups of people gently conversing while McCaul supplied the ultimate background ambiance.
Dean & Britta are on their first tour as a duo, but they are not new to the tour scene. Dean Wareham is the leader of one of my favorite bands, Luna. Luna called it quits a few years ago after making 7 of the best studio albums a band can make. I love the unique sound that Luna contributed to music throughout the last decade, and I highly recommend listening to those albums. Luna's "Best of" was recently released as well.
Britta Phillips is the beautiful and well known former bass player of Luna. In addition, she is famous for starring in the 80's rock n' roll movie Satisfaction, while also providing the singing voice of the cartoon character from the same decade, Jem.
These two superstars along with their new band are touring in support of their new album called Back Numbers. They admitted being a little nervous since this was their first live show in two years, but their sound never dulls. They opened with the first song off the album called "Singer Sing." Britta's gorgeous and tantalizing voice crooned the lyrics, "while you were sleeping, I caught you dreaming/ singer sing that song/ driver drive along." The next song "Ginger Snaps" came off of their last album called L'Avventura, and started with a fun synthesized sound and gradually built up into greatness. After "Words You Used to Say," the spacey number sung by Wareham, Sean McCaul came out to join them for a few songs starting with "Hear the Wind Blow," originally written by the 80's neo-psychedelic group Opal. The lyrics of these vibrant lullabies are spellbinding. The couple then went into a Lee Hazlewood/Ann Margaret Duo also featured on the new album called "You Turn My Head Around," in which Dean Wareham once said, "I found this obscure 7" single in Boston years ago – it's on Lee Hazlewood's LHI label. Originally sung by Ann Margret, written and produced by Hazlewood. The song may be about a ménage a trois- we were three shadows in the night / doing what we thought would be right."
The show livened up with a Luna classic, and one of my favorites, "Moon Palace." The crowd cheered as memories flashed back. The violin sound added to the song tremendously. If you're still not convinced to inquire about the amazing duo, Dean and Britta scored the music to the Academy Award nominated film 'The Squid and the Whale,' and "The Sun is Still Sunny" was originally featured in the movie without lyrics and is now featured on Back Numbers with the next song "White Horses." "Since I Lay My Burden Down" empowered the audience as the secret weapon "Bewitched" sent the crowd spinning. Dean's guitar sounded so clean and refreshing with Luna sounds that the crowd reciprocated in cheer. Britta's vocals carried us away again in "Knives From Bavaria," and "Hearing Voices" delivered a haunting vocal effect of a rare Galaxie 500 (Dean's first band) song.
The finish to this show pleased the crowd. Britta sang the sultry "Night Nurse" and they finished the show with one of Luna's most popular songs "Chinatown." The crowd finally came to their feet and a few people even left their tables to dance in front of the stage. They were soon welcomed by Dean and the encore was electric. Perfectly appropriate, the group played "Bonnie and Clyde." This song is sung in French and originally written by the French poet, singer-songwriter, actor, and director Serge Gainsbourg. This notoriously sensual song details the story of Bonnie and Clyde through beginnings, crime, and death. Dean and Britta made their audience proud on this night detailing their own musical journey through their present, past, and future. Keep an eye out for their new album and the few shows left that they have on their tour.