A Head Full of Wishes

A Head Full of Wishes is a site for Galaxie 500, Luna, Damon & Naomi, Dean & Britta and Dean Wareham. With news, articles and lists of releases and past and future shows.

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He followed them from Manchester out to California

This post is by James Travis. James lives in Manchester and runs Dots and Loops which has been keeping the cool folk of Manchester entertained for ten years.

Luna in LA (Photo: James)
Luna in LA (Photo: James)

1h 48m of my flight back to the UK remaining and they have turned up the lights, seemingly to awaken all the crying children who had earlier thought better of doing so all the way to our destination. What better time to pull together my thoughts about what were my 7th and 8th Luna shows of 2015, at LA's Terragram Ballroom; a venue choice many miles ahead of the Garage in London, and also 5000 miles from.[1]

The first evening we travelled over from Joshua Tree to LA and met up with a friend who was coming to the show with us, and headed out towards the venue in search of Mexican food. I have to say, I wasn't feeling too clever after sampling the many delights of Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace the night previous, so I did the British thing; ordered my food and promptly left it there untouched. We shot over to the venue shortly after 8 and had a few drinks there, which perked me up a little, obviously.

Luna took to the stage just after 10pm, opting for a surprise opener with Fuzzy Wuzzy. I only recall seeing this once (maybe twice) at the previous 6 shows I've attended, but the guitar interplay between Sean and Dean makes this, for me, a great opener for those who have been yearning for a return from a band Rolling Stone magazine once called ‘the best band you've never heard’. Thankfully we don't have that misfortune. Chinatown followed, and by the third track of the night (Speedbumps) there wasn't a person in the venue that wasn't transfixed.

A powerful rendition of live favourite Indian Summer actually got me a little teary this first evening in LA. I think my friends were concerned about my mental state, but I pulled through ready to enjoy the second encore of California (All the Way). Following the show I said a quick hello to Sean and thanked him for the evening, and we then moved on to a highly unusual bar off the side of a highway which featured a rather large American guy who wasn't so fond of the British. He had been to Reading once, though.

Cut to Sunday morning, 6:50am. I am awoken by the alarm on my friends phone (which I have borrowed due to breaking my own at a Flipper gig a few nights previous) in an unfamiliar room at his parents place. The alarm was set to September Girls by Big Star, there's worse ways to wake up. Anyway, this was so we could watch Manchester City play out a dullest of 0-0 draws against Manchester United. It wasn't so hard to fall back asleep after that.

We did a fair amount in the day before the second show, including a visit to Amoeba records. During that visit I headed across the road to use the toilet at Jack in the Box on Sunset, and encountered some rather intense gentlemen poking their head over the cubicle to try and sell me some goods. No thanks buddy. After that, we headed to our hotel for the night to relax and have a couple of drinks before round 2.

This evenings show was not quite a capacity crowd, but it filled up nicely by the time Lee served up the opening drum fill on Chinatown. The band seemed tighter and more comfortable on the second night, Hedgehog and Freakin' and Peakin' being highlights of the Penthouse set for me, but the crowd lapped it all up without a second thought.

Penthouse set list and pass (Photo: James)
Penthouse set list and pass (Photo: James)

The encore for the evening included a first for me, with Black Postcards finally making an appearance (I had assumed it would be a setlist staple when the shows were first announced). This Time Around was perhaps my favourite of the evening, though Ride Into the Sun and the always brilliant Friendly Advice (which closed the evening) were also solid.

During the encore there was a cry of ‘ROCK YOUR BABY!’… It was me, sorry. Dean followed up with a ‘How are you James?’ and also let the crowd know I had travelled from England for the shows. ‘What a waste!’ I responded. I was lying. I had followed them to California (All the Way), and what wasn't to love? We caught up for an hour or so after the show and shared a drink, then I returned to the hotel for some rooftop pool drinking. Not a bad way to round off what could be the last shows I see from this, the finest of reunion tours.

In what has been a highly unusual, and for the most part unsatisfactory, year; the Luna shows have been fine punctuation marks. I'd like to thank Dean, Britta, Sean, Lee, and all the promoters for 8 superb evenings in Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, London, Leeds, Manchester, and LA. I can only hope a return to Europe is on the cards for 2016, but wherever they end up you can bet there's a good chance I'll find a way there.

James in LA with Sean, Britta and Dean (Photo: James - taken in Manchester in August)
James in LA with Sean, Britta and Dean (Photo: James - taken in Manchester in August)


[1] - This review of sorts was actually completed well after my return flight. I've been busy and lazy in equal measure.

AHFoW: Thanks a lot to James. If anyone wants to contribute to AHFoW please get in touch. I'm always looking for another perspective… I have nothing to offer in return but my thanks and the fame and prestige!

AHfoW would also like to apologise for the title of this post and for the fact that Manchester has more syllables than Phoenix and therefore it doesn't scan.