13 Most Beautiful...Songs for Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests, The Barbican, London

Reviewed,Elisa Bray
Monday 16 August 2010 00:00 BST

From 1964 to 1966, Warhol made short films of the young creative – or simply beautiful – types who crossed his path during that time, including his most famous superstar, model Edie Sedgwick.

Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, partners both in art – in former dream guitar-pop band Luna – and in life, were commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to score the tests. They sifted through Warhol's films, and set about creating 13 Most Beautiful... Songs for Andy Warhol's Screen Tests, a multimedia show which they have been touring ever since.

Dean and Britta's hazy, dreamy songs are the perfect soundtrack to the soft black-and-white films of the narcotic-addled subjects. Sometimes, what might have been background instrumentals become instantly poignant and captivating, with the film as a backdrop. The dreamy "Ann Buchanan Theme" takes on more emotional depth and intensity against the film of the crying girl, especially at the point of Wareham's guitar solo, tonight timed meticulously with the tear falling from her chin. The show is given a further layer of emotion with Dean and Britta's brief between-song explanations of the tragic early fates that met many of these characters.

"Teenage Lightning and Lonely Highways" and its themes of pills and casual sex is suitably paired with the test of the devastatingly handsome speed-taking Paul America, but its gentle rendering presents an affectionate, tender portrayal of the self-conscious subject, while Lou Reed is the epitome of cool in his shades and refusal to look into the camera as the band rock out to their version of his "I'm Not a Young Man Anymore". If there is anything that jars in the otherwise cohesive set, it is in the heavier of the numbers when the viewer's focus is distracted between the film and the band.

As they return to play just one Galaxie 500 song, "Strange", from their album On Fire, we only wish for more.

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