I'm sitting on a big soft popcorn - Luna in The USA and the UK (1: Alexandria)
I get a text message from Ulrika, she is drinking wine with Luna in Paris. I am at home. She is seeing two more Luna shows, without me.
— "Tell me more", I quickly reply back.
— "I'll tell you later", she only responds.
The day after is a turbulent day. Ulrika coming home and I will get to know all about the shows I couldn't attend. And hear all the stories. We meet in a restaurant right by where we live, they haven't changed the menu in 25 years. They serve cajun food. They play music we like. I'm early, almost 30 minutes, and I sit down with my back against the wall. Facing the windows to the street. My mind is dizzy. There is candle lit on every table. The young girls next to me are talking about their dating the other day. I have never been on a date. It's too nerve wracking.
I'm both happy and sad this day. But mostly happy. I've seen eight Luna concerts in a little less than two weeks.
Earlier this day Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel prize in literature, it's quite shocking. There's been rumours and talk for years, but no one really thought it would happen. Something no other musician has done before and probably won't again for many, many years. I am really happy about it. And Ulrika is too, we are big fans. But somehow I can't be that happy, I have stitches in my mouth. This Monday I had a horrible dentist experience, I cried and they kept telling me to breathe. "Easy for you to say", I wanted but couldn't say.
And The King of Thailand passed away today. It means a lot to me, since I have so many Thai friends nowadays, the nicest people I've ever met. They live in a corrupt country, and for many the King has been a cohesive force, and they loved him deeply. They knew this day was going to come, but they tried to ignore it. He has been on the throne for 70 years, the respect for him is infinitely large. There will be a one year mourning period in the country. Everyone wears black. No parties, concerts or festivities are not allowed. The programs on tv are in black and white, websites are in black and white too. No one is smiling.
I'm both happy and sad this day. But mostly happy. I've seen eight Luna concerts in a little less than two weeks. And now everything is back to normal. If that's possible. This strange day. I look up and Ulrika enters the door. It's dark, I see the silhouette of her. The candle light makes her face become clearer the closer she gets, she looks happy. A little more than two weeks ago we crossed the ocean together, and got to the small town of Alexandria, Virginia. It's just a road, with a few stores and restaurants. And there's a concert venue, Birchmere. Strange name, a weird place, in the middle of nowhere. It's not where a band like Luna is supposed to play I keep thinking to myself.
A couple of days earlier we arrived in Washington, DC.
We visit The Capitol, I don't get that much of all the English bureaucratic and political terms, but I like it very much. We visit the Air and Space Museum, we love it. And we see all the monuments. And the White House of course. Somewhere in the distance.
We reach the small town of Annapolis, probably the nicest city I've ever been to in the US. Everyone seems so relaxed. The sidewalks are not overflowing with people, the houses are old and beautiful, and it's where our good friend Mike lives. We go to a quiz night with him and his friends, eat delicious crab cakes and have a lot of fun. It feels like a highlight of the trip, just to be in Annapolis. But we move on. There is a band playing.
I didn't know what to expect of Alexandria. We loved the cajun restaurant, called RT's, it's even better food than most in New Orleans, and the friendliest staff. I had a crab soup, I love crabs. We relaxed and then left. When you get to the box office at Birchmere you get a queue number. Then they call the numbers one by one and you can chose where you want to sit where it's available, with as many of your friends as you like. Every seat is by a table. The waitresses takes the orders. We had a flat bread pizza. Just when we had finished it Britta came on. Britta Phillips.
Her opening set was even better than what we had expected. When she played Agnetha Fältskog's Wrap Your Arms Around Me I couldn't help myself from crying with happiness. She did it that well. Not just well, there's more, there's so much more. I will get back to Britta. My emotions are all over right now, I will get back to Britta another day. She is very good.
It's a quiet audience. Polite. And the sound is just perfect, crystal clear. And for the first time probably ever Dean's voice wasn't low in the mix from were we where sitting in the front. Dean was wearing a patterned shirt. Sean is saying he had the special, it wasn't on the menu, but it was the special. Dean had gumbo.
And then it happens. The candles light themselves. Those candles. And the guitar melody played by Dean. A million, a billion, a trillion stars.
Sneaking a kiss, on the fire escape. All those fire escapes, it's like in the movies. I see Robert Mitchum, James Stewart or even better, Cary Grant. And there's Grace Kelly, looking so good, gracious, curly blonde hair. I keep dreaming, of James Stewart, what he is seeing in Rear Window. I see myself in him. I would do the same. It's just that my neighbours aren't as entertaining. I go to my friend, she lives opposite to a hotel. I bring a bottle of wine and stare. It's a hobby of mine. You've got to have a hobby.
"Hot fucking Luna", someone is yelling. And from that moment the crowd is getting louder and louder.
And then it happens. The candles light themselves. Those candles. And the guitar melody played by Dean. A million, a billion, a trillion stars. Britta's voice is coming through nicely, it sounds magical. The audience gets wild.
"Thank you", Dean says. "That's from our album Romantica. We have this Swedish couple that always come to our shows, complaining that we never play anything from that." The audience starts to clap. "They just got married", Dean continues, "isn't that cute?". And it starts to sound like an American TV show when someone says they've got kids and the audience goes "aaaaaahhh". That never happens anywhere else. It's just kids. You slept together, had sex, shared sheets. Anyone can do that. Then they play Malibu. It's time to put the diamonds on. Indeed.
When Lee starts to hit that ride cymbal in a steady fast beat, something is happening, I don't know what it is. In Malibu. And those perfect melody lines by Dean. And hard hits on the snare. Sean is waving, his right arm is moving fast as a bullet. There's something in the air. They build it up, slowly, and then it gets more intense, more intense, faster and faster, Sean's arm, is waving more intense, never stop play this song, please.
The mood is so relaxed I can't stop smiling, and I'm feeling better than ever. My body is numb, not from the bourbon or the bottle of wine, it's the music. The atmosphere, the people, this band. "We can all go mad together." He is articulating we words, or are least puts meaning to them. "That's what friends are for." I'm so glad I met Mike. Recording all these shows. Being so nice to us.
Sean is playing a solo, his fingers are moving like a corn in a heated pan, not a cold pan. Heated pan. What a pan.
"We took August off", Dean says. "Shake of the rust", or something, someone says. There's no rust in this band. Never has been, it will never rust. Maybe put to rest, again, I surely hope not. People need this band, there's something about this band, it's the perfect calculation, when the maths works, and number ends with no decimals, all is even, the answer is short and sweet.
"I'm wearing a new shirt, it's four years old", Dean says. "I've seen it before", Sean says". "Take it off Dean", a guy in the audience is shouting. "There's a tweet about this shirt", Dean continues.
"Tell me stories on my birthday." The music soothes my soul, milks my bones, I can't even feel the chair, I've never seen this band sitting on a chair before, other than in Madrid, two nights in a row, in a nice but theatre, it was quite stiff, until we stood up at the end. That was a long time ago. Ages. Years. Centuries. It was last year. Feels like forever. It's been ten or twenty more shows for us after that, I don't know, doesn't matter, this is the most relaxed concert i've ever been to. Luna, what a band. Sean is playing a solo, his fingers are moving like a corn in a heated pan, not a cold pan. Heated pan. What a pan.
"Lost in her perfume." I usually don't like this song that much. On record yes, I guess. But today, it feels like a nice choice to play live, at Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia. I've always liked the lyrics to this song, jumping from "cross eyed in the corner" to "tongue tied in the corner". I bet Dean was proud when he came up with that. I would have been.
People are shouting for songs. Still at Home. "No we're not playing that one tonight", Sean says. People continues to shout. "Broken Chair!" "Chair!" "Play the Chair!" They continue. "Funny thing is", Dean says to Sean, "you said if someone was asking for it you where gonna sing it". They're laughing, like always, they are laughing and it's like I'm sitting on a big soft popcorn, it's actually very comfortable. Probably lots of butter. Soothes my butt. I google butt to see if the spelling is correct. It's a good googling and it's a legitimate googling. Try it you too. But you might not like assorted butts. I like a lot of things.
We order two beers from the waitress, I start to like this thing, with the tables. "You know, there's something more, but you can't give it a name". It has nothing to do with beer but someone is selling all the heroes.
Sean is drilling a hole. Tell me do you miss me. Sean is drilling a hole. Popping popcorn. For you and me. Lee is hitting those crash cymbals, harder than a bullet. Britta's bass is lean as a puppy. Good for my soul, believe me. Over and over during the concert I keep thinking to myself that I can't even remember if I've seen them better. In a better mood. Better song selection. Better sound. Better audience. It is that good.
Before the show we ran into a nice couple that told me they like my blogs. We started to talk, Americans can be so nice, so friendly, so warm, so welcoming, inviting. I like that a lot. I just wanted to mention it.
They play Fire in Cairo. We've never seen them play it before, just heard the recordings, it's nice to hear it for real. The Cure is band me and Ulrika has strong feelings for. Without Pictures of You and Lovesong we probably wouldn't have been together. It was about 16 years ago, in a Stockholm suburb apartment, they where playing Disintegration at a party, and we danced, slowly, the night came to an end. She lent me Bewitched and Penthouse, it was nice. I met someone else, but a couple of years later we danced again. The same songs. Music has that affect on you.
"Please get off the stage", a speaker voice is saying after the show. We get the set list anyway. We step back out to the bar area and we meet Mike's friends, Kathleen and Paul. Kathleen had made a t-shirt, with a print saying "I only dance to New Order". It's pure genius. I wish we could have spent much more time together.
Everyone was overwhelmed by the show. Talking about how good it was. And the band looked very, very happy when they were outside in the lobby talking to all the fans. I saw Dean standing in the crowd of people and he looked at me, did a sign with his hands, keeping that satisfied smile on his face. He's not always that comfortable after the shows, but this time he looked really relaxed. We talked with Sean for a while and Mike and Kathleen and Paul.
Sadly we had to leave, the place was closing. We called a taxi and went outside and waited in the parking lot. Someone yelled Ulrika's name and it was Lee, he was driving his own car, we waved back and shouted "hello, see you tomorrow". He is nice to us, they all are.
The taxi was heavily delayed and that's not the most fun part of a great night. An unknown girl in the back seat of a car leaned out of the opened window and started to yell insulting words to me. I am used to it but never get used to it. I couldn't come up with anything else to say than "Good for you!", but she continued. When I told Ulrika later she came up with a lot worse things I should have replied, definitely not suited for print. The whole situation made me sad.
In the taxi back to our hotel we hardly said a word to each other. Ulrika was thinking about her father who is very ill and I saw that she was crying. We stared right into the darkness, times like these emotions overflow. But things got better as we got closer to the hotel, seeing Washington, DC, in the night.
It is always nice to sit, relax and talk about the concert afterwards, in a nice bar, watching the street lights and the rain.
We went to a bar that we had been to earlier in the day, we got window seats on the second floor. It is always nice to sit, relax and talk about the concert afterwards, in a nice bar, watching the street lights and the rain. Candles spreading a warm light. And from the speakers, they where playing New Order. One of Ulrika's favourite songs. I leaned back, had a sip. It felt much better. And I looked at the girl in front of me. I think I saw a smile. Remembering how we danced. We will do it again. And we where going to Boston. Meet some more dear friends. And to see Luna. See the popcorn pop. Dance again.
Thanks so much again to Joakim for this, and sit tight for more on Luna's recent US and European dates.