Review: Luna at Irving Plaza-New York, November 27, 2004
Luna at Irving Plaza-New York, November 27, 2004
The anticipation had been killing me for the entire twenty two day period between the Middle East show and the Irving show. Not only was it a road trip to New York for a Luna show but this time I had the added excitement (or even danger) of meeting some of the other list members. A three hour drive, cheap hotel in So-Ho, dinner in Little Italy and before you know it we're at Bar 119, the designated meet spot for list members. The Bar was exactly as Jenny had described it: dark, dingy, cheap beers, and loud eighties metal music. Once the gang was all there we sipped a few and chatted about all things Luna (with the main focus of course being the show that night). After an hour or so of getting acquainted it was time to head around the corner to IP and stake a claim to a prime piece of real estate since the show was already sold out.
This being my first time to Irving I was a bit surprised at how large a venue it is. I believe I heard someone say that it had a capacity of over one thousand people so it's definitely not the typical Luna venue. There's a sparse crowd on the floor and the balcony was pretty well full when we arrived. It's right to the bar for a not so cheap cocktail and then wait for Palomar to open the show. Much to my surprise Palomar is three female guitarists (all beautiful ) and a male drummer. Without expecting too much from them they didn't disappoint. In fact several of the songs actually had some really good guitar work. For the most part they were a little too poppy for my taste but they do the trick as an appetizer before the main course.
In the half hour or so between Palomar and Luna the people flooded in and it was important to get close and stay there as you'd probably never make it back if you left your spot. As I waited for the best band on the planet to start their set I thought about how many more times I would get to have this experience. Waiting with such eagerness and then finally the band walked out to a steadily growing roar. It was time to settle in to what I'd hoped would be a very long set.
They opened with the same song they'd opened with on many of the previous stops on the tour , Malibu Love Nest. I knew they would play it that night but still I was hoping they did. If you've ever heard it live and I have three times now, It's almost a different song live than the one on the new record. They don't disappoint this time around either, each time they play it gets louder and more polished. Next is a sensational rendition of Going Home which had not really crossed my mind as something they might play but I was very happy they did. Speedbumps followed and I must say seeing songs done from Rendezvous live I didn't think would have much emotion to them. But this time it's not just a new album, it's the last album and Speedbumps sounded like an old favorite on this night. Right into the twinkling guitars of California now and this one sends a chill down the back of my neck. It was like seeing an old girlfriend that you still had a thing for and you knew she still had a thing for you. Next is Broken Chair and although it's not one of my favorites it fits right in and Sean sounded great. They pick up speed with 1995 and again, I can't say it's one that I was hoping they played but the band flat out rocked and the crowd did too. Cindy Tastes of Barbecue was both expected and welcomed and she certainly didn't let anyone down. It's another perfect example of how seeing a song live can change the way you view the CD version from that point on. I start to feel a little nostalgic as the band moves right into Chinatown and I quickly recall the so many times I've listened to Penthouse and all the memories that go along with that. As much of a good time as I'm having at this point I can't help but to think of just how many more songs the band will give us tonight. I'm getting that uneasy feeling that the show is about half over.
If the first half of the show ended with a bit of nostalgia then the second half kicked off with a startling performance of Hey Sister. This one truly surprises and although Dean had some technical difficulty with one of his pedals it didn't take anything away from the song. It was a little surreal to be seeing Hey Sister since I've never seen it live nor did I ever expect I would. Things slow down a bit with Bonnie and Clyde and Bewitched. Britta is terrific on B&C as she always is and Bewitched sounds better than I've ever heard it before. The deep base of 23 Minutes in Brussels comes as no surprise and I start to relax since I've seen it so many times before. Not the same this time though, I think the band might have made a point to have it be a stand out in the set. Sean's solo was brilliant and the crowd reaction was overwhelming. No time before have I witnessed a longer or louder ovation at a Luna show. It felt like it went on for 23 minutes and Dean even appeared to be embarrassed by the whole thing. Once the crowd quieted down one of my wishes is granted with Tracy I love You. I try to savor every moment because I know there can't be many songs left. Black Postcards picks up the pace once again and knowing full well they'll do the extended version it puts a big smile on my face. A highlight of the night without question as Britta, Dean, and Sean all faced Lee like he was conducting an orchestra. They finished off Black Postcards bigger, faster, and stronger than ever. They put down the guitars and the sticks and wave as they walk off stage graciously. All that's left now is the encore and if we're lucky we'll get two.
After a very short intermission the band reappears. I fully expect to hear a Galaxie 500 song and I'm hoping it's Blue Thunder. I'm pleasantly surprised with Moon Palace though, as I relish every last moment of what has been a remarkable show. We then get a little Friendly Advice from the band but it turns out to be bad advice as this would be the last song of the night. The band was barely off stage when the lights came up and the house music started to play. I'm stunned by the fact that we didn't get another encore, this was New York City, Luna was back home, the crowd was amazing but to no avail. There's no time to feel sorry with the IP staff bullying everyone out of the place. Not even the courtesy of letting me finish my $7.00 Amstel.
I am temporarily satisfied so it's back to Bar 119 for more cheap drinks and eighties metal to reflect on the night, talk more Luna, and plan for my next Luna show.