Like a German version of Damo Suzuki - Luna in the UK, part four: Glasgow, Manchester and Stockholm
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 & 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 & 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 and 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.</p>
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.</em>