LIVE: Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500’s On Fire – Rebellion, Manchester

Galaxie 500, for the uninitiated, were a band comprising Dean Wareham on vocals, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang, that existed back in the dim and distant days of 1987, 1988, 1998, 1990 and 1991, during which time they recorded three albums: Today, On Fire and This is Our Music. Post Galaxie 500, Wareham recorded a dozen or more albums as part of the band Luna, four albums with his missus Britta Phillips as Dean and Britta, and two or three solo albums, airing four or five songs from the most recent of which, I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A, by way of preamble at the Rebellion gig.

Wareham last toured Galaxie 500 tunes about a decade ago for the 20th anniversary and now here he is again, tucked away in the former railwayman’s working club / former (ahem) gentlemen’s club that is Rebellion, treating us to ‘On Fire’. “Let’s go back to 1989,” Dean says. “Can we stay there?” a lone voice calls out of the audience. And then we are transported: 10 songs – ‘Blue Thunder’, ‘Tell Me’, ‘When Will You Come Home?’, ‘Decomposing’, ‘Snowstorm’, ‘Another Day’, ‘Plastic Bird’, ‘Leave the Planet’, ‘Pity’ and ‘Strange’ (played, you’ll notice, out of sequence) – that (to quote a fellow to my left) the majority of people in the place never expected to hear in a live setting again. All around you can see happy smiling (mostly old) faces nodding and smiling and hugging themselves. “This might be the most respectful audience I’ve ever been part of,” someone else says. In between songs, people yell out questions (questions!) that Wareham takes the time to answer (“yes, we did tour with The Sundays. Peter Hook came to the Manchester gig and tried to tell Naomi how to play bass…”).

But it’s the music that makes us happy, Wareham wrestling with the kind of falsetto he largely abandoned during his Luna days, ably accompanied by Britta on the shoegazey sheen of some of the vocal harmonies. At one point, Wareham talks about Galaxie 500’s first Manchester gig, playing the Boardwalk (itself not a hop and a jump from Rebellion) – the Boardwalk itself part of a complex of buildings including Anthony H Wilson’s old flat and the rehearsal space used by New Order and a handful of others. “I’m not sure it feels right ending with this,” says Wareham as the band crank into a Luna-fied cover of ‘Ceremony’. “Oh I’ll break them down, no mercy shown,” he sings and we all feel it. A warm glow. A special gig. One of those you’re fortunate not to have missed. Here’s looking forward to the next Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500 gig ten years from now. 

Words by Pete Wild

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