Monday, November 8th, 2004
I don’t think I’d ever been to a farewell tour before. You know, a show that was officially acknowledged by the band to be their last, at least in that city, ever (or until the reunion a decade later). I’ve seen shows on tours that were rumoured to be swan songs, but never one that came with a press release bidding adieu. So in appreciation of the fact that it would be Luna’s final jaunt through Hogtown, a damn near packed house came out on a Sunday night to bid them farewell. It was a particularly bittersweet occasion for me as I was seeing one of my very favourite bands of the last six or seven years for the (almost) last time, but I was determined to enjoy every mintute of this evening.
Thankfully, openers Wayne Omaha made it easy. I knew them from the Joy Division/New Order tribute night that Lake Holiday played with them last year, but obviously I wouldn’t have gotten any idea of what their own sound was like from that sort of show. Adding some nice droney/spacey influences into a solid base of roots rock, they reminded me of The Skydiggers mixed with some Feelies while looking like Grandaddy. They won me over from the minute they took the stage, what with their guitarist/keyboardist playing the show – and quite ably no less – with a broken arm in a cast. Bobby Baun would be proud.
And then Luna. Oh my Luna. They’ve long held a reputation as a stellar live act, though it’s hard to articulate exactly why. They’re not the most animated band in the world onstage, but jumping around and general hijinks really wouldn’t work for their music, and at least until the recent addition of bassist Britta Phillips, they weren’t a whole lot to look at (though I’ve heard it said by some that drummer Lee Wall is quite a hit with the ladies). No, what Luna does so well live is play. It’s all about the music. They’re so tight, they seem to do it so effortlessly and the songs which can come across as a little sleepy on record crackle with a strong but understated energy. They’re just so GOOD.
And last night, they were SO GOOD. Opening with “Malibu Love Nest” off their latest/last album Rendezvous and following up with almost-signature song “California (All The Way)”, they reached back through their entire catalog (with the exception of Days Of Our Nights) for a more rocking than typical set. I would have liked to hear more Rendezvous material, as I feel it’s their strongest set in years, but I certainly wasn’t going to complain about hearing “Moon Palace” or “Tiger Lily” instead. Even though I’d grokked Britta’s setlist before the show and knew what to expect, they still pulled a fast one dropping “Lovedust” at the last minute in favour of Lunapark’s “I Can’t Wait” and closing the main set with an extended jam of “Black Postcards”, itself not a jammy tune. Proving that this was indeed a career retrospective tour, they opened the first encore with Galaxie 500’s “Tugboat”, altering it slightly to repeat the line, “I don’t want to vote for your President” more frequently. This they followed up with “23 Minutes In Brussels” and the fitting, “Time To Quit”. The crowd wasn’t letting them go that easily though, and the band came back out for one more go-around on “Friendly Advice”. And then that was it.
It was a superb show, but it’s going to be strange to think we’ll not be witness to Sean and Dean’s sinuous dueling guitars again (Luna are my favourite guitar act on the planet, bar none), nor Dean’s bedhead hair (which was looking pretty sharp last night – I’m not cutting my hair for a while) and laconic vocals, Britta’s gorgeous harmonies, Lee’s perfectly understated but propulsive drumming or Sean’s goofy between song MC-ing (the pride of London, Ontario!). I think Dean seemed gratified at the obvious love the audience was giving the band, thanking him for so many years of great music – all three times he left the stage he was wearing a big-ass grin. I get one last shot of Luna magic this Friday in Chicago, but for Toronto, all we have left are the memories. And the photos. I’d never gotten a chance to shoot Luna before, and obviously after this week I never will again, so I’m glad how these ones turned out.
PS – That “I’ve never seen a band on their farewell tour” bit was a lie. I saw the Dismemberment Plan on their final tour last year. I only realized this after I’d written it and didn’t feel like rewriting the paragraph.
The new Doves record has a release date and title! Some Cities will be in stores on February 15.
The Kansas City Star (login with firstname.lastname@example.org/a12345) talks to the reclusive Berke Breathed about Bloom County’s 25th anniversary (!!!) and the accompanying hardcover book, Opus: 25 Years Of His Sunday Best. I still have not seen any of the new Opus strip anywhere. From Largehearted Boy.
np – Old 97’s / Fight Songs