It is unusual for me to go to more than one concert in a night. Well, I often would like to, but it is generally not possible. But the same friends with whom I went to see PJ Harvey had bought tickets to Dean and Britta for the same night. It seemed possible to go to both, since PJH was at the Warner Theatre, while a mainstage show on Friday night at the Black Cat probably wouldn’t start until like 11. So we hopped in a cab from downtown and made it to the Black Cat while the opener was still finishing up.
I saw Luna once, on their farewell tour three or four years ago, and really enjoyed it, so I have been mildly interested in seeing Dean & Britta for a while — though they tour a lot so it never seemed urgent. Also, I have been mildly infatuated with Britta Phillips ever since seeing that same Luna show… as if I needed more motivation.
As it turned out, the show was great. Dean Wareham seemed a little tired at first, and showed his age a bit when you peered too closely, but the dude could play amazing guitar riffs in his sleep. In fact, I think he may have been completely asleep for the first few songs but he perked up as the set went on. Maybe he was inspired by his gorgeous bassist/singer/wife, or maybe he had to pay attention to the drummer who apparently just joined the band that very day or something.
They played stuff from throughout Dean’s career, added some obligatory covers, and thoroughly rocked the house. It was fun to see something like a “greatest hits” type of show from someone who has never really had any hits. They played some “Dean and Britta” material too, mainly at the beginning of the set, and that was also pretty good though I am not so sure about the ones Britta belts out like “You Turn My Head Around.” (Oh who am I kidding, that woman can do no wrong…)
It was interesting to contrast the show with the John Parish/PJ Harvey set from earlier in the night. At the Warner Theatre, you had relatively successful musicians playing a carefully-choreographed show. They were drinking water, they were well-dressed, they were dignified and professional. Dean and Britta, and the other two guys on stage, were relatively unsuccessful musicians, drinking beer instead of water, looking sloppy at times, but doing what they love. Or really, in the case of Dean, probably the only thing they know how to do. It was cool. I don’t really prefer one mode of musicianship to the other, but it’s hard not to sympathize with the little guys.
I was looking on youtube to see if there were any videos from the show, and found only one. It’s interesting, though. When we saw it, my friends and I wondered what it was — it seemed to be a cover, and it sounded just like the Velvet Underground. But I didn’t think it was — listening to the VU boxed set a million times made me think I knew every Velvet song. Turns out I was wrong, it is a Velvet Underground rarity called “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore” that was unknown until the past couple years. Cool tune, and appropriate for Dean Wareham. Appropriate for me, too, at this point, and probably all the Dean and Britta fans out there. I’m not a young man anymore but it is always inspiring to see old geezers like Dean and Britta rocking out. Check it out: