It's been twenty years since we lost Velvet Underground guitarist and tugboat captain Sterling Morrison.
Time to dig out some VU, or Luna's Bewitched, and raise a glass...
We had met Sterling on the Velvet Underground European tour in 1993 [...]
Getting the call to open for the Velvet Underground was weird. I thought I might have been dreaming. But weeks later I found myself in a dressing room at the Edinburgh Playhouse, listening to Lou Reed, John Cale, Moe Tucker and Sterling Morrison run through Venus in Furs.
We had already recorded a demo of “Friendly Advice” with producer Victor Van Vugt, which we played every night on that tour, and Sterling Morrison told us that was his favorite track. We asked if he’d like to play guitar on our next album, and we were all surprised when he said yes. So far as we knew, Sterling hadn’t played on anyone’s record since about 1971. He was a lovely and unassuming guy, and when he passed away just two years later, I put on my headphones and listened to his transcendent guitar solo in "Friendly Advice," and I cried.
A quick round up of some Mistress America bits and pieces out there on the web:
The New York Times reviews gives the film a glowing review and picks out Dean & Britta’s score:
A gleaming electropop score by Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips gives you a sense of teetering on a merry-go-round
Dean and Britta had a lovely long radio interview with Ioan Dyer about scoring for films and how they got involved with working on Noah Baumbach’s on Mistress America.
You can hear the full interview (without the music) over on Soundcloud:
The soundtrack album is now available as a CD or a digital download in all the usual places including iTunes, Amazon. It’s also available to stream on Spotify (and possibly the other streamimg services). You can also hear a few of the tracks on Soundcloud.
People often ask me, ‘Do you like scoring film?’ The truth is, not always. But its good to work and it’s a lot more fun if it’s a good film and if the director is good. I think it’s the same for actors. Even actors who have their pick over every single film they do, how many really good films do they get to make? Not a lot, I think.
To tell you the truth, Britta is a lot more patient with learning new software than I am. So when we score together, there are things that she writes and things that I write, but all the detailed work — all the hard work [laughs] — she does. Like stretching things for time or hurrying them up, editing, getting into the nitty-gritty.
After more than ten years as a Wordpress blog, A Head Full of Wishes now isn’t.
It will hopefully be better (but I have the WP site backed up… just in case it’s a flipping disaster) - but things will almost certainly have gone astray in the move - things will be broken, missing, not working. But mostly it’ll be as it was before - but hopefully quicker.
One thing that has gone are the comments - I do still have them all (and I may reintroduce them, but not yet). I’ve replaced this with Faecbook comments. It’s not perfect but it works quite well and Facebook is certainly the place where most of AHFoW’s discussion already happens so it seemed a sensible option. If you’re not a Facebook-er - I’m sorry - I really am. You can still contact me using other channels, email, twitter, and even by post!
Feedback is welcomed - both good and bad - and I’ll try and fix things!
Chapter four of Joakim's adventure takes them to Glasgow, on to Manchester and home to Sweden. See chapters one, two and three.
The morning after we took the east coast train service up to Glasgow. A beautiful train ride. Got off the train and walked the hills up to our shockingly cheap hotel, £37 and it was one of the nicest hotel rooms we’ve had ever. Must have been something wrong but we just enjoyed it and relaxed. Then we went to a fish restaurant called Two Fat Ladies. I had a creamy fish soup as a starter that was marvellous and I had cod as main, which was even better. Ulrika had cheese for dessert, I had a glass of whisky. A fruity one, not too smokey. I usually don’t drink much whisky but since I was in Scotland I had to have a glass and this one was very nice indeed. We stepped out, still a little rain but we didn’t mind, again. Ran into LunaGal and Steven. We went into a pub and started chatting. Let’s meet when you come to Stockholm, we said. We’ll cook a dinner for you. Come to our apartment and let’s see what happens. They will be here tomorrow. Let’s see what happens.
An older German guy was at the pub, started chatting with Ulrika and then Steven. He looked like a German version of Damo Suzuki from the krautrock band Can. I saw Damo Suzuki play in Stockholm about 15 years ago in the cultural centre of Stockholm. The German guy we met was into art by the way, and he wondered what Luna sounded like and I said Velvet Underground’s third album and he knew right away. He tried to convince his wife to go but she didn’t want to. We got into the concert venue without the German version of Damo Suzuki in tow. Sometimes you've got to wonder, isn’t it a pity?
Luna played in the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow, the venue was a bit stiff but nice. Modern looking, with bright nice wood panels covering the walls. Kind of the opposite to Leeds I must say and while the venue in Glasgow was very nice, there’s nothing like an old venue like the one in Leeds. I’m sure there’s plenty of those places in Glasgow as well.
The gig in Glasgow was a Sunday night gig and it sounded like one. Not bad at all, in fact it was a very nice concert. Dean talked to us from the stage, he talked about how LunaGal and Steven, who were standing right behind us, had also come from far, as if we didn't know each other. We did, since a day back. And another funny thing was the set list. 23 Minutes In Brussels was written twice. I’d love to hear 46 Minutes in Brussels. That would make a good rock and roll song. They played Indian Summer instead.
After the show we a had long and nice chat with our new friends from Australia and we talked even more about meeting in Stockholm. Talked about this and that. Then they went back to their hotel and we stayed a little longer. I kind of heard Sean’s voice, it’s easy to spot, and I told Ulrika that let’s get one floor down. We did and met everyone and talked a little with Britta again. We where talking about Swedish music, like The Knife. It was closing time and we split up, went to our nice hotel room and had a cup of tea and a rhubarb biscuit. It had been a good day in Glasgow, I’d love to come back some day.
That sound. The alarm sound. Got to get up, time to go to work. I hate the alarm clock, I hate it so much, each day. Time to get to the train station. I don’t hate that as much. Just a tad. We went up, walked down the hill to the train station, found something to eat for breakfast and then found our seats.
It was a train ride straight south to Manchester, very different from the one from Leeds to Glasgow. This one was more bordered by hills with sheep grazing, many of them, it was a nice train ride. I slept some which I'm not usually able to do in transportation devices. I can’t even sleep in my own bed. It’s been the third night now since we came back and I still haven’t slept properly, had to get one of my pills I got in Bangkok to sleep yesterday, I am still dozing.
But the sheep and hills where nice. And we finally got to Manchester. That’s the right place to be I think. It’s almost scary how much good music has come from Manchester over the years. I met a guy before the show who’d seen New Order 140 times. I know plenty of people that have seen Bob Dylan a lot more than that, but New Order didn’t do gigs in the 1960’s.
Initially I wasn’t supposed to go to Manchester because I had to go back to work. But I somehow managed to find a way. I like my friends at work. I like them all. I got to Manchester too. Just like Ulrika. And I managed to sneak myself into her hotel room. Ulrika stayed in the room for a couple of hours, I went out for a walk. I got lost and then found a bar that used to be an underground urinal. I went down. And found Jon and Mike. Hello friends. What are you doing in town?
We arranged to meet outside The Gorilla, the concert venue, at five to have dinner together. When me and Ulrika got there, a little late, Jon and Mike where talking to Dean and Britta. Dean needed to buy underwear he doesn’t need to do any laundry on the trip that way, Britta said. I do that too sometimes, I buy underwear on my trips as souvenirs, that’s great, each new day I think about my trips all over the world, and it makes me a little happier. I don’t have space for traditional souvenirs anyway. Don’t want them either.
Dean and Britta wandered the streets away. I had planned to eat at The Gorilla since the menu looked really nice and we decided to try it. I ordered the grilled chicken and it was the best I’ve had since my grandmother cooked chicken for me 25 years ago. No one cooks like that any more. But the grilled chicken at The Gorilla came pretty close. And we got 20% band discount on our food. And we talked to Sean when he came walking by and Lee too.
Lee is the best drummer Luna could ever have. The whole band is perfectly matched. Dean is the smart one, Britta the organised one, Sean is the funny one and Lee is the stable one. Lee and Britta makes Dean and Sean sound good, like everything they do is well planned. Lee never plays with big gestures, even if the band is loud as hell Lee looks like he isn’t even moving. He wants the beats per minute written on his set list, but he is not playing to clicks in his ears, he just wants it the way he wants it. Luna needs a drummer like that. It’s what makes Luna the amazingly good band it is. I can’t use the word perfect any more so I won’t. My chicken was close to as good as my grandmother's. With such good people as Jon, Mike and Ulrika around me it was as close as it gets.
The doors to the venue opened up and we got in. Got two glasses of bourbon with ice and placed ourselves in the front like always. A local shoegaze band opened up, they should have played as an after band instead, but they sounded good. The singer went down on the floor where we were standing and sang bent down on his knees.
Flowers where great like always, they can only be good no matter what. Flowers asked us the night before if there was any song we wanted to hear, seeing them in Manchester was going to be the tenth time seeing them. I’m no good with song titles, I like all of their songs, but I get excited when I hear something I’ve never before, so I asked them to play something I’ve new heard before, new or old. They played one song we probably heard in Spain and that was fine, it sounded great, of course.
And I also asked Britta if they had rehearsed a song I really like that I’ve not heard on these gigs during the years. She said yes and she said they would play it. The Owl & The Pussycat. It’s a little late right now when I’m writing this, I can’t go into details, but it’s a song based on an old nonsense poem by Edward Lear. I love the lyrics, pretty much stolen word by word.
Hand in hand by the edge of the sand, they danced, by the light of the moon. They did play it during the show. But only half of it. It sounded horrible. There was a bass feedback, Dean stopped singing and rightly so, but I like when things goes wrong at gigs. I really honestly like it. It usually makes things be more memorable and the band wants to pay back by playing the next songs better than ever. And so they did. In Manchester.
The crowd went wild, it seemed like the applause never wanted to stop after several of the songs. Friendly Advice was the best moment of the tour. Music doesn’t get better than that. Someone threw a note up on stage saying Speedbumps, a request, but it turned upside down, Ulrika flipped it and they played it. Someone yelled for Slash Your Tires and they played it, one of my favourites, that I had loved so much when they played it in Santander earlier this year, it was as good now. And they played the other song we asked Britta for, Sweet Child o’ Mine as the last song of the show. We had fun, we enjoyed it more than ever.
After the show we had a beer in the bar and met three Swedes we’d never met before. They had also come for Luna. We all hung out the rest of the night, Joe joined us as well. And Jon and Mike took us from one place to another in Manchester. And all of us where having lots of fun.
The day after me and Ulrika walked around in Manchester, had Chinese food in China town and I bought three skirts and one cat necklace for Ulrika and one fox pillow for myself. “To make life a little happier”, I told the salesperson in the store. It’s next to me right now, on the couch, here in our apartment in Stockholm. Realising we already had a hedgehog pillow from before. It’s late now, but it’s worth it, staying up late. It was all worth it in the UK and it is worth it right here, right now.
[Editor's note] - Thanks so much to Joakim for the wonderful posts about Luna's trek around the UK. I was lucky enough to have met Joakim and Ulrika, and most of the rest of the folk mentioned in this series of posts and it was a pleasure to spend time with all of them - and a hatful that weren't lucky enough to have made an appearance. I genuinely believe that not only are we lucky to love a great band but Luna are lucky to have such great fans - we should be proud.
If anyone wants to write up any of the forthcoming Luna dates please do get in touch - you don't have to write a four post novel, just a few words and a couple of pictures would be fine too! It's nice having other people's words and thoughts on AHFoW.
The third chapter of Joakim's journey around the UK arrives in Leeds. Read part one and part two.
It was raining in Leeds. I don’t mind the rain. Not at all. In fact I like the rain. We went to our hotel room close to the train station. Even if it’s never the nicest area to stay in, in any city, close to the train station, it is convenient when you’re going up early the day after for another train ride.
We stayed in a nice hotel room and I walked out by myself to buy a new camera, I accidentally dropped Ulrika’s small compact Leica in London, it broke. The new camera sucked but I had to use it since I had bought it already so I filmed the whole Luna gig. But I like the music so much it’s not much to see unless you want to purposely feel nauseas.
We walked around in Leeds before the show and liked it quite a lot. Went to the hip shopping mall Leeds Corn Exchange with lots of cool stores. Had a meal and jumped into a taxi to meet Andy again, in a fun but weird pub next to the concert venue. We met Irish guy, Joe, who’d been a very long time fan, he and Andy where telling us stories of the first Galaxie 500 and Luna gigs in the UK. I love meeting people like that.
A guy in the bar told me three times what a nice wig I have. I didn’t really get the joke more than I know that my hair looks fucked up no matter what I do. If I cut it properly according to a hairdresser it looks stupid and if I don’t it looks stupid too. Hair is not exactly my favourite subject so lets move on.
To Brudenell Social Club. What a venue! Like stepping back in time 50 years. Got to like places like Brudenell Social Club. Apparently it’s where all the good bands play in Leeds. Mercury Rev will play there soon. We got to the venue early as usual, we like to feel the vibe of the place in good time, watch when it fills up and be able to talk to people if we know anyone.
In Leeds Flowers opened up first, charming, delightful and beautiful as always. And then the local band Hookworms came on after. I was especially looking forward to seeing Hookworms since I got their debut album on vinyl when it came out a year ago or is it two years by know. A mint green album cover with a psychedelic painting. The music is intense with both guitars and organ and lots of distortion, sounds everywhere and very loud. Similar to the now dissolved Gothenburg band Silverbullit, in US they are known under the name Citizen Bird. Their lead singer used to be thrown out by the security guards during their own gigs appearing too energetic. Hookworms was a really cool opening act for Luna. Loud and energetic.
Leeds is different. Compared to London and Brighton it’s another world. I’m so glad I got to Leeds. It’s like going to a small town that’s not exactly small. The people are crazy and memorable. The drummer from Flowers told me after the show that the founder of Sarah Records was at the show. The Field Mice used to be one of my favourite bands, at least some of their songs, Sensitive is one of the best songs ever recorded I think. The drummer of Flowers said that he was going to introduce me to her but it never happened and I didn’t really mind, I wouldn’t know what to say anyway, I’m not good at those things. I could have told her that girls in Sweden listening to Sarah Records usually have mods hairdos but I wouldn’t want to get into that thing, don’t want to talk about that. But I was happy to be in Leeds.
Luna in Leeds was a wilder affair. It started off a bit slow but still nice. I think it was Mike that had told Britta that Chinatown would be a good opener and it was. Malibu Love Nest is always good. It’s incredibly good I should say. Sideshow by the Seashore isn’t bad either. And I’m so glad Sean is doing the wonderful Still At Home, he has a beautiful voice. They played Friendly Advice, Tracy I Love You, Speedbumps. And Bonnie and Clyde, that’s a delight. And Fuzzy Wuzzy. One of Ulrika’s favourites. And I like Time To Quit. I saw you rock out, Joe said, or if it was Mike, I wouldn’t really use those words, americans do, but I can’t really stand still at a show when I’m enjoying it. The film didn’t exactly turn out like a new The Last Waltz I’m afraid. But I had fun. And they played Tugboat as well. I don’t think Blue Thunder suits Luna very much, Tugboat is better. The first time I heard Tugboat was on a Mercury Rev bootleg I had, I still have it somewhere.
If Luna play a cover it doesn’t really matter who did the song first, they always turn it into their own. When Dean & Britta is doing the Dylan song I’ll Keep It With Mine it sounds exactly like the version by Rainy Day, who in turn of course had listened to the Nico version of the song. I love when people are borrowing from each other in art, even stealing, and especially when it comes to music. It makes music change and transform and develop into previously unknown territories. Dean has always been good at that. After I heard Mercury Rev’s Tugboat, I got On Fire with the bonus tracks Ceremony and Isn’t it a Pity, two landmark covers in the history of music in my opinion.
Then I met Ulrika who introduced me to Luna. She wouldn’t let me into her apartment, I had to wait outside. I can’t remember what albums she loaned me but I’m pretty sure it was Bewitched and Penthouse. I liked Bewitched more, her favourite has always been Penthouse. But she listened to Romantica a lot when we met, we shared music taste and I thought it was great that she had so many ep’s and singles with a band that where so great, and there where tons of amazing covers on those records. One of the first concerts we went to together was Luna at Debaser Slussen in Stockholm 2002, not counting a country music festival two years earlier, but that’s another story. My favourite Luna album is now Rendezvous. That album has the current Luna live sound that I like so much. I like the current Luna live sound, if you didn’t know already by now.
After the show Jon called for a taxi and outside the venue we ran into LunaGal and Steven from Australia. They where about to travel to Stockholm in a few days. Is that so. I have a pen, we’ll write some important things you need to know about taxis when you come to Stockholm. It’s a free market, anyone can put any price to the taxi rides and the tourists get ripped off. I gave LG my number. Jon, Mike, Ulrika and me shared a taxi back to our hotels and we said that we where going to meet in Manchester in two days. We were first going up north to Scotland.
The soundtrack for Noah Baumbach's new film 'Mistress America' is out now on CD and digital. The album inlcudes new original music by Dean & Britta (as well as some Suicide and Macca). You can get the album from US Amazon (MP3, CD) and I suspect all the usual suspects.
The film opened in NYC earlier in the week (after initial release at Sundance earlier in the year) - here's Dean & Britta at the premiere:
The second chapter of Joakim's epic account of a journey around the UK following Luna and meeting and making friends - you can read the first chapter here
We woke up, met Björn and went to a café and ordered bacon Bloody Mary’s. Ulrika got a vegetarian one. It’s true. They were spicy and nice. Had some breakfast as well and then we where off to meet Henrik and Sara at the train station and went together to Victoria Station in London. Said goodbye to Björn who was heading back to Stockholm. Me and Ulrika went to our small hotel opposite to Kings Cross station on Belgrove Street. Small but, we liked it anyway. London hotels are probably some of the worst in the world, at least some of the worst in Europe, considering the prices. But we didn’t really dislike this one, and it was easy to find. That’s worth a lot when you’re staying a very short time in a city.
We relaxed for a couple of hours and then went to meet Henrik and Sara again, having Italian food. I ordered half portion of cannelloni as a starter and then a Scottish beef steak as a main. A Barbaresco bottle of wine on the side. We went went to Barolo and Barbaresco in Piedmont in the northern Italy in July, I fell in love with the wines over there. That was while we where going to some Dylan shows, can’t beat combining good music with good food and wine.
We enjoyed our meal very much, Henrik and Sara weren’t going to the show, they had already got tickets for the Carmen opera. Me and Ulrika went to meet Andy and other Luna fans in a café in Islington. We had only met Andy once before so it was really great to meet him again. One of those guys there’s not enough good things to say about. He’s making the A Head Full of Wishes web site about Galaxie 500 related music. What’s not to like about such a guy. We also met Mike and Jon for the first time. Mike and Jon. Smiling again. I had a cup of coffee and then we walked north to The Garage, the venue. Opposite the The Garage I played with Henrik many years ago, I think that was our last gig and it was one of our best.
“Well, we’re not going to miss the band” someone said as we walked. Probably Mike. When we where about to cross the street we met Dean and Britta who was also heading north to The Garage. “How are you Andy”, Dean said to Andy. He’s such a gentleman, humble and nice. But you want to watch your words talking to him, don’t know why. Britta is always spreading good atmosphere around her, easy to talk to. You’re always a little scared of Dean even if he’s a gentleman saying “how are you” and smiling at you. The impression is that he listens very closely when you say something, I’m not used to that and you end up saying weird things, things that he will always remember. Maybe it’s just his weird clever lyrics that makes me overestimate his brain.
I once met Bob Dylan on the streets of Paris before one of his shows, it was close to the Bastille, where Avenue Daumesnil meets Rue de Lyon. I said hello to him and thanks and good luck tonight Mr Dylan, he was carrying a white box with both hands, I’d like to think it was a cake for his band mates. He stared back, lifted the white box up and made clear the he couldn’t shake my hand, because he was carrying a cake. Didn’t say a word, but that look. I still today can’t let go of that moment, a good moment, but scary. It’s almost the same with Dean. I wonder if Dean’s ever given his bandmates a cake.
Dean and Britta went into the venue on the right side of the building and we went in the regular way and waited in the front. We started to talk to two guys behind us that stood next to us at the Brighton show. They had been to a music festival recently, with their tents and all. Pretty cool for guys over 60 or whatever their ages where, can’t care less really. And that’s what’s so different from going to concerts in the UK compared to Sweden. Or going out in general. We don’t mix ages. For some stupid reason. That is one of the reasons why we like going to concerts abroad. Far away from Stockholm.
In the UK music binds people together, here it’s in many occasions the other way around. But I’ve found ways to pull me out of that, many of my best friends are much older than me and I like that. I noticed right away, in the front, that this concert was going to sound different. I was staring into a big wall of speakers with bass woofers under the stage. And when Flowers came on I found out I was not only right, it was an underestimation. The bass was very powerful. Could feel it in the chest. It was nice.
Luna did a much louder and more powerful gig than in Brighton. I’m not saying it was better, but different. I’m sure the band themselves much preferred it. With a much bigger audience as well. But there where a lot of chatting too, I liked Brighton a little better I think. Afterwards we met a Danish guy we had met in Barcelona as well. He liked the show but liked Barcelona even better. That is why I like going to several shows. It doesn’t matter which one was better really, they will be different, they will all be good experiences, some more memorable than others, but they will all be good for you. I know that. They played the Galaxie 500 song Blue Thunder again, like in Brighton, and Dean sang it much better, can’t be easy to sing that one, but no throat syrup needed in London.
After the show we started talking to a Swedish guy that Björn met in Brighton. He used to work in a record store close to where we live in Stockholm. We have mutual friends and I kind of recognised him but we’ve never spoken to each other. He knew about my old band Twig he said but I don’t know about that. He’s in a side project with Johan Duncanson that’s in the locally famous indie band Radio Dept. I used to see them live and got their first releases, when their debut CD Lesser Matters came out it became an instant classic.
We talked about the gig and we had very different opinions. He likes short pop songs, I like that too of course, but most of all I like long songs that preferably ones that never end and take different directions. 23 Minutes in Brussels is too much rock and roll he said, I didn’t know what he meant really, still don’t. If that’s too much rock and roll, well then I like too much of rock and roll. We stayed at The Garage until they closed and me and Ulrika walked back to Kings Cross, to our tiny but not too dirty hotel room. The breakfast the morning after was very weird. The orange juice was not drinkable, worst I’ve ever had. I don’t like sugar substitutes. Not in candy, not in sodas or anything. People bake with sugar substitutes and says it tastes good. It doesn’t. I much prefer having nothing at all than something with sugar substitutes in it. The bacon was OK and the beans too, the eggs tasted funny. We went to the train station and ran into Jon and Mike again. We only spoke very briefly in London. They where nice and offered us seats next to them, I ordered a danish with a sliced plum on top. We where all going to Leeds.
I first met Joakim when he and Ulrika where in London for a Damon & Naomi gig a few years back, and again at the recent Luna shows in the UK. It was a pleasure. When he was back in Sweden he emailed me and mentioned that he'd written up their UK trip and wondered if I'd like to post it to AHFoW. I was overjoyed at the prospect of publishing someone else's words on the site - below is the first of four lovely missives about being a Luna fan following the band around the UK. Andy - AHFoW
It’s that moment when you know it’s all worth it.
When the alarm clock goes off at five in the morning the idea that was so great when you booked the flight suddenly turns into a really bad idea. Why did I do it? But you can’t just let the flight tickets go to waste. Have to go up. Have to. And so we did.
Me and Ulrika went to Spain in April to see Luna play five times. We went to Gijón, Santander, Madrid where they played twice and Barcelona. We loved every second of that trip. And when the band announced a five concert tour in the UK we just had to go. Again. Since I’ve been to London about seven times and never seen anything else in the country, it was an even better idea to go. And even if UK hasn’t got the olives or wine, they’ve got other attractive things to offer. I’m not really talking about the pubs and the beer even though I love the pubs and the beers.
What I like is the always vibrant music scene. Not the music scene that once was. We know all about that and it’s quite boring. It’s the music scene that is now that is fascinating. It never stops. Music is not supposed to stop. It’s not supposed to get stuck in old manners or habits, you need to look back, but you can’t look back all of the time. Music must move forward, and it does.
I like Luna because of what they do now, not because of what they used to do.
It’s that moment. When the music surrounds you completely, is all around you, and inside your head and body. Can’t stop smiling.
We talked about going to see Luna again if they were to reunite. No matter where they would play, we wanted to go. And we went to Spain. We fell in love all over again with this wonderful band called Luna. I don’t know what else to say about them, they’re just wonderful. Every single aspect of the band is wonderful. They’re the pure definition of what I like about music.
At the moment I listen to jazz almost all the time. I have done so for the last couple of years. And I go to about ten Bob Dylan shows each year. I’m one of those. And when Luna were going to reunite we had to go. We are used to travelling around to see concerts, not just Dylan but we’ve seen him play in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, Italy, France, England, USA and Japan. To go to Spain to see Luna was just a joy. And we had so much fun. Then we went to the UK. And we had fun all over again.
We got to Brighton and met up with our friend Björn who was also in Brighton to see the show. He lives in Stockholm as well and is probably one of the biggest Lou Reed fans around and also a great guitar player. We used to play together in a band, me, him, Ulrika and our friend Helena who didn’t join us this time, but she went with us at ULU ten years ago to see Luna’s last European gig. At one point we were called And Suddenly (we had many names, Hotel Electravision was another and for long I didn’t remember why we had that name until I read Dean’s book, then I remembered where it came from). We recorded a very, very sloppy lo-fi version of Tiger Lily that was released on A Head Full of Wishes compilation CD.
Me, Björn and Ulrika went to a nice restaurant on the Brighton seafront and had a really fresh and delicious flatfish meal. I had sweetbread as starter, usually don’t eat that but it was nice as well. Probably thought I was going to get something like pizza but I did not. Then we proceeded to the Brighton pier and jumped into the rollercoaster and we screamed. It was fun. Ulrika didn’t want to join but I think she a had laugh by just watching us. We walked back, to the ferris wheel, and went a couple of turns. Steve Coogan was the speaker voice. He is funny. Then we got off the ferris wheel.
We met up with two old Swedish friends that now live in London, Henrik and Sara. I used to play in a band called Twig with Henrik. We travelled and had much fun but then he moved abroad for studies and work and never came back. We all went to a pub on Black Lion Street and went outside in the beer garden at the rear and watched two exuberant very happy dogs. We talked about being as happy as that. This place was pretty much just around the corner from Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar where Luna was playing later.
Sticky Mike’s is a small club with the stage in the basement. The ceiling is so low you have to bend your head when you walk around if you’re not short. We’re not exactly short but wanted to be in the very front anyway. We know it can be irritating for people behind us, especially in a place like this, but everyone’s got the chance to be there, just be there in time. We loved the place.
We had seen the opening act Flowers five times at his point, since they were opening up for Luna in Spain as well. We fell in love with the band and couldn’t wait to hear them play again. And the audience at Sticky Mike’s where extremely respectful and quiet, probably enjoying their gig as much as we did. Five or six new songs since Spain which made us happy. Their first album was produced by Bernard Butler. If I remember correctly they’re going to record the follow up themselves. Probably a good choice.
They sound fantastic as it is, just as they are. Sam and Jordan backing up Rachel’s beautiful voice. It’s a well known cross in styles between Phil Spector, Jesus & Mary Chain, Cocteau Twins and all those great music legends in the same spirit. But Flowers still sound entirely unique in their own way. We even got to know them pretty well in Spain and it was nice talking to them again.
We’re always a bit nervous when we’re about to see Luna play. A bit? Very nervous. We know exactly what will happen. Dean and the others are just going to come up on stage quickly and play their songs. We know that for sure. But at the same time, we don’t know at all what’s about to happen. What’s its going to be like this time. We’re nervous.
I’m nervous right now, writing about being nervous. Is that love? It’s music that means a lot to us, I know that for sure. Dean wears a blue, white and red striped polo t-shirt and Britta’s wearing blue jeans and a black and white striped sweater. Lee and Sean are dressed in black. Dean’s looking like a sailor boy on the coast somewhere, just about to jump into the sailing boat, pulling the ropes. And he is. That sound. No one sounds like that but Dean. He’s never really plays a solo on his guitar, it’s more like a part of the song, always something melodic, never any excesses. It’s just melodic perfection yet very intense and big sounding playing on his white Gibson Les Paul. And his playing is rhythmically driving, I like that as much.
Dean’s voice is unique as well. Whining, people probably would say, but not in a bad way. It’s not whining to me. I think it’s more seeking and dreaming and sometimes talking determination of dry abstract findings in the human life. Did I just write that? Looks like it, I know what I mean but I can’t put it to words. And the voice. Dean’s voice makes me smile, the words makes me smile, not happy words all the time, but they put a smile on my face. With that whining voice of his.
I’m not very good at analysing lyrics, I prefer to just let the words be a part of the sound and the moment. Right now I’m walking around humming something about electronic snicker snack. Mixing it all up and hearing it wrong, I know that, but I can’t help it. I think I like doing it too. Your purple mouth says snicker snack. Google the lyrics and it says snicker smack instead. For some it could be I guess. North of north Dakota, to Bobby Peru. What’s a billet-doux by the way? A love letter. Cindy tastes of barbecue, is that right, should be really good. You see, I can go to endless Luna shows, I will never get tired of this.
They are on stage in the tiny basement of Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in Brighton and I’m so close to Dean’s guitar that I could retune it. The perfect distance. It’s always a trade off being so close to the stage. The PA speakers are actually behind you. But sometimes when the stage is really small, you can hear the stage monitors and amps instead. It’s almost like being up there on stage. Next to Dean with his striped polo. And on the right, there’s Sean. I smile just when I think of him. And Dean is smiling when he’s looking at him up there on stage.
Sean says “what?” He says “what? Who?” He’s funny without even making an effort. No jokes really, no jokes with a punch line anyway. He just stands there to the right, on Dean’s left, and makes people smile. Sean’s guitar sound is both the opposite to Dean’s but also very similar. It’s never about showing off skills. It’s always about pushing the music forward, either by beautiful shimmering sounds or intensive rhythm and melodic drive. It’s not surprising that Sean has made music for TV and films, just like Dean has. And with his Fender Jazzmaster it is the perfect counterpart to Dean’s guitar sound. Did I tell you that he’s funny too?
We couldn’t be happier after the show. It was of course similar to the shows in Spain, but this was more compact, up front, close. And the music is just more of the same but still not the same. It changes, at least it changes in my head, my ears, it never sounds the same. I’m in a different country, different venue, with other people, in a different mood, but that nervous feeling is the same, that lucky good nervous feeling of excitement and joy. And the songs that wind in all directions in my head. I was happy. Malibu Love Nest is worth a text of its own. It’s sheer perfection of a song. With a melody from heaven. A song that changes within itself, in the bathroom on the plane, on the bus and on the train. There’s something in the air.
Dean said out mine and Ulrika’s names during the show and that we had come all the way from Sweden. He did that in Barcelona as well. It feels a bit embarrassing, we usually hide in the corner if we can, unless we’re close to the stage. After the great show we went upstairs to have a beer. Henrik and Sara went back to their hotel, the very nice Grand Brighton Hotel so I guess they wanted to sit on the balcony, and enjoy the view, and that air a little bit.
Me, Björn and Ulrika stayed and we met Joe, an American guy that’s been travelling around Europe for six months. A Luna fan as well that also would see more shows on the UK tour. We were talking and I saw the poor bands carrying their heavy equipment up from the basement into their van upstairs. I helped Sean with one small bag for two metres. I got to talk to Britta a little bit, she is a nice girl, always very friendly and nice. The band where driving back to London after the show. Good for them I thought, waking up in the same city where they’re about to play next. Me and Ulrika went to have some fish and chips by the beach, sitting on the pebbles and enjoying the nice weather that night, the sky was clear, the moon shines upon us. At least I think it did. It was a good moment. That air.
For the first show of the US tour in Atlanta on Friday Luna will be playing their album Penthouse in full (plus other gems). The show is an early one at Terminal West with doors at 6:30 and the show kicking off at 7:00 - support will come from Matt Hollywood & the Bad Feelings.