LIVE: Dean Wareham / Ryder The Eagle – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, 21/07/2022

“We’ll do a handful of new songs before we do this other one.”

This is Dean Wareham talking. And by way of this rather modest introduction, the Los Angeles-based musician means that he and his band – long-time partner Britta Phillips on bass guitar; guitarist Derek See; and Roger Brogan on drums – will be playing some tunes from Wareham’s most recent solo album, the wonderfully entitled I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor Of LA, followed by a performance of Galaxie 500’s 1989 album On Fire.

The tour, after all, is called Dean Wareham plays Galaxie 500 plus more. Dean Wareham formed Galaxie 500 in 1987 with Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang and whilst Wareham left the band four years later, they have since assumed something of a cult status, their three studio albums – of which On Fire was the second – being commonly regarded as a trio of absolute classics.

The five songs played from I Have Nothing To Say To The Mayor Of LA – which was released last October – show that the passage of time has not diminished Dean Wareham’s wonderful ear for a tune and his ability to cloak it in an effortless melody and with heightened emotion. ‘The Last Word’, a song about Karl Marx’s youngest daughter – a pioneer of socialist feminism who tragically killed herself at the age of 43 – captures all of the spirit, determination and, ultimately, the tragedy of her life.  

We get On Fire in its entirety, albeit not played in the exact order in which the ten songs appear on the original release. ‘When Will You Come Home’, for example, is ‘promoted’ to number four in the setlist whilst a euphoric ‘Strange’ ends up closing the show. If anything, this creative realignment adds to the dramatic tension and awesome power of these often-simple arrangements, over which Dean Wareham’s trebly voice wavers with intent.

Responding to an earlier request from the crowd for ‘Tugboat’, Dean Wareham delivers an emphatic rendition of the last song from Galaxie 500’s debut album Today as the first encore of the evening. The second encore – and third cover of the night, following ‘Under Skys’ by the obscure Massachusetts band of the late 1960s, Lazy Smoke and George Harrison’s ‘Isn’t It A Pity’ – is a coruscating blast of Jonathan Richman’s ‘Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste’ which affirms the sheer timelessness of this music.

Mention also has to be made of the support act, Ryder The Eagle. The man from Mexico City in the white charro suit dispenses with any need for a therapist, choosing instead to ventilate his innermost thoughts, feelings, issues, and concerns – which range from relationship breakdown and erectile dysfunction to shoplifting from Marks and Spencer’s – through a series of extended monologues and top tunes, the last of which ‘The American Dream’ starts off with him knee-deep in the crowd before he discards his suit jacket and decamps to a rather precarious looking vantage point high above the bar where he continues to belt out the song with much gusto.

Photos: Simon Godley

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.