Dean Wareham Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, April 9

Dean Wareham Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON, April 9
Photo: Shane Parent
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For 27 years now, Dean Wareham has been one of the most underestimated singer-songwriters in the American indie rock canon. Whether it was through his short-lived but much-loved Galaxie 500 or his criminally overlooked successor Luna, Wareham's music has remained precious to a devoted cult audience.

According to Wareham's musical and romantic partner, Britta Phillips, it had been five years since they'd last played Toronto, and despite the rather thin-ish crowd at the Horseshoe, those in attendance felt it was long overdue. Promoting his excellent Jim James-produced, self-titled solo album, Wareham presented an economical yet highly adept quartet equipped to play any song from his catalogue.

Beginning with the title track from last year's Emancipated Hearts EP, it didn't take long to dip into his most prized work, following up with G500's echo-heavy "Blue Thunder" and "When Will You Come Home." With such a strong signature, Wareham's winsome songs all meshed perfectly, as new songs like "Holding Pattern" and "Love Is Not A Roof Against The Rain" cozied up alongside Luna's "Tigerlily" and "Moon Palace," as if they were from the same era.

Never one to shy from covering other people's songs (on top of his own), he broke out a jammy version of Beat Happening's "Indian Summer," a staple of Luna's sets over the years, and ended with New Order's bold "Ceremony," a Galaxie 500 b-side from 1989.

And while the musical experience was amiable and wonderfully pensive as always (minus some feedback issues), it was just as enjoyable to have his dry, yet winning personality back on stage. Case in point was Wareham joking about drummer Roger Brogan's bad day after losing a "bag of stuff" before reaching Canadian customs. Of course, this led to the topic of Rob Ford (when in Toronto!), suggesting that our city's (in)famous mayor could probably help him out.

As we've come to expect from him, Dean Wareham brought no frills, just songs with him. The fact that he's not only making some of his best music in 2014 but also gladly reflecting on some of his best music from the past makes it an absolute pleasure to have him back after a half-decade.

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