It swivels and swirls in your head. Luna - three nights in San Francisco (3: Rendezvous)
I would have loved to have played ping-pong against Dean. He had a table in his home as a kid. I had too. My father knew a World Champion and we got his used rubbers (not his condoms) after his training. My brother found out a way to get them even more sticky. You pour Cola Cola on it, let it dry. It's insane, so sticky the balls sticks to the racket. You can spin the ball and send your opponent to the wall. Dean and the ping-pong. Dean likes sex. That's kind of a quote. I like rice.
Rice boiled in stock is tasty and ping-pong is easier. Such a struggle to get there. You have to be manly, funny, charming, smart, clean, self confident, smell nice. Sometimes even have a beard, or at least a stylish moustache. Or tattoos all over the body, not just a small tattoo, that might make things worse. I like a lot of things though, and people too. Can't keep my eyes from them. I have two eyes, ears, a brain, might be a monkey brain but that's fine and I'm going to use it. You should use your brain too, so much to do with it, nothing to be ashamed of. Thank God for this monkey brain.
Rendezvous is my favourite Luna album. It's such a relaxed, cool, warm summer night record. It's not just any record. The sun is setting, the horizon is orange, deep red, the sky is dark but still blue, and you are in love with life and people around you, or ready to start again, live again, bend some spoons. I'm on an eleven hour plane ride back to Stockholm, I don't care about hours because I have been listening to Rendezvous live, alive, I have listened to Penthouse, and to Bewitched too, in San Francisco, California, with people I like so much I can't even put it in writing.
We got to sunny California a day in January. Got to our room on Fillmore Street, close to Haight Street, two orange, worn out but comfortable armchairs in the bay window. Sat down, the California afternoon sun hit the walls and white linen, Ulrika's face. A good day and it got better and the next days even better than that. Suddenly it's Saturday a week after we arrived and we are going to see Luna at The Chapel. The third night. The light show man is doing the light show, I touched his coloured fingers, black, dark green, brown, all sorts of colours mixed in his two hands. His fingers were soft as smoke, I kept touching them, he didn't seem to mind. Psychedelic light shows at a Luna show, you can start the show, just come on in and start the show.
We would hear several songs we've never heard live before, I like that even though I know these songs not will be the musical highlights, but it's exciting to hear new songs, I almost get nervous, that's how excited I am about hearing songs live for the first time. Malibu Love Nest is not one of them. I have written about this song so many times that there's probably not much more to say, it's a perfect opener, that's a fact, it's the song that defines the album, that defines Luna's sound, makes you happy, when it swivels and swirls in your head, your bones. Can't help dancing to.
Cindy Tastes of Barbecue and Speedbumps are also songs they play regularly. “Rendezvous”, Dean says after, “a French word”. The audience is just smiling, who wouldn't, who couldn't, at a night like this. Nights like these. “Rendezvous”, Sean says after a couple of seconds in quiet, he's on Dean's left side just like always, he says it with his most articulated, well spoken French accent. It's a meeting, that's what it means, hand in hand, on the edge of the sand. The Owl and The Pussycat. “Allison Andrews came up too see me”, maybe their most beautiful song.
“Rendezvous”, Sean says after a couple of seconds in quiet, he's on Dean's right side just like always, he says it with his most articulated, well spoken French accent.
I remember in Glasgow when me and Ulrika asked them to play it and they did it in Manchester they day after, but it didn't sound very good, and they've never tried it since, but now they had to, and Dean is focused, his lips touching the microphone, singing perfectly. It's not the song you might play every night, because it's slow, but it's beautiful. Sean is playing the solo and gets loud cheers. Britta on backing vocals, it's a quiet performance, delicate, sweet, just lovely, so lovely.
The projection in the background is colourful, psychedelic, hand made liquid light show by guys calling themselves Mad Alchemy, using at least three, or even four overhead projectors, and coloured liquids put on plates that you move manually, it requires quite a lot of job. No pattern is ever the same, will ever be the same. They play Astronaut. I can't decide if it's about love or hate. Dean's voice is almost always difficult to read, it could be either, but with an even more snarling voice there wouldn't be any doubt. “I wanna plug you in, I wanna get you things, send you a pentagram, feed you diazepam”.
I still don't know, a pentagram can be both good and bad, but I think I hear something happier in this song most of the time. At least tonight. ”I wanna play the game, I wanna live again, I wanna bend your spoons and make your silver shine.” “The only Luna song that's on two albums”, Dean says. “But it's two mixes”, Sean adds and continues, “but they are not very different mixes really”, with that typical twang and emphasis in his voice.
Maybe he's getting a little nervous, because he's about to play one of his songs, that he hasn't sung in many, many years live. He doesn't have to be nervous, it's pretty much perfect, his voice is high, falsetto at times, “I'm running so fast, I gotta go where I need”. And Britta is singing with a lower voice in the refrains creating a richer vocal sound. And again Seans gets loud cheers, the loudest of the night before the end.
It's probably the most anticipated Luna song, at least one of the most, his playing is gorgeous, and the lyrics too, even better, but they're sad. “There's so much of madness here, so much that sinks”, and then my favourite part, when he's changing from “you're” to “we're”. “Act like you're all, we're all in a terrible fable”. That sums it up right now. But the song is not about the world order right now, it's more about a strange, chaotic relationship that's ending, “better be off and I better be able”, I have no idea, really, and besides, what isn't a chaotic relationship in this world? All is of course. Chaotic meetings. “I tell myself I'm braver”, that's what I try to do every day, but I almost always fail. I'm glad Sean Eden wrote this song and that it's on the album, Rendezvous.
“Tiny hands, orange skin, satin sheets, racist tweets”. Dean couldn't resist, he usually never comments on politics in his songs, but he just couldn't resist this day. The United States presidential inauguration. Star-Spangled Man. Lee looks happy and comfortable on the drums, but Dean is angry, or like so many others, just can't understand, how was it possible. People wanted something different, I get that, got nothing to lose they say, I get that too, but to fall for someone that's so stupid is just impossible to get. It's probably the first time they've ever played the song they say. And, with “a little adjustment for the days events”, Dean says afterwards when Sean points out there was a change. I know so many Americans, they are the smartest and friendliest I know. I don't get it either.
They are handing out the pins again, made by Jenell, one for each day. “Valium sunset, hazy sky, Motel Bambi.” Again one of those songs that define this album, in the quiet. “We don't belong, any more”. Easily another highlight of the night, Britta playing synth bass, and Dean singing with his sweetest voice, very quiet, his guitar playing too, the first time they play it. “There's a lot of history being made lately”, Sean says.
“We hugged each other before we came on stage”, he continues, “what else do you want us to do?” “Make a new record!”, someone is yelling.
It's quiet, the audience is quiet, unusually so, but the album is quiet, especially the second half, I don't mind, might not be the perfect live show, but it works just so nice this day, so nice. And then there's Sean again, what would life be without a bit of Sean Eden? Not much. It's funny, “she's gonna break my back, with a bit of amusement, oh man, we're holding hands”. This is one of the songs that makes Luna feel like a band, not just Dean with his backup band, this is a band playing, writing songs, playing together, listening, that's what they are doing, Sean is used to sing this song, he knows it well by now and it's always a joy to hear.
I love when Dean is leaning back, when he is looking at the ceiling, maybe he's not actually looking at the ceiling, he is just looking upwards, or even closes his eyes when he's playing, moving his head in circles, or from left to right. Playing. Buffalo Boots was one the songs I was looking forward to hear most, it's the first time they play it too.
“Hug each other”, someone is yelling from the audience. “We're not monkeys”, Dean replies, not biting back, just says it. “We hugged each other before we came on stage”, he continues, “what else do you want us to do?” “Make a new record!”, someone is yelling. This is a much loved band. Much loved. And Britta is smiling, Britta Phillips, that I like so much. The light hits Dean's face from behind and creates sharp bright contours. They are playing Rainbow Babe. “Aquavit, in plastic cups.” I really like that line. It's the last song of the album, and it's been a very special night so far, but it's not over yet, me and my new and old friends get to hear more.
So many nice people. Mike, Frank, Marjorie, Giselle with her smile that is making me so happy, Kelly, Carly, Peter, Michael, Greg, Patrick, Alan, Gary, Joe and Ilene from Texas, Joe from Seattle, Morgan, Allison and Bill, Chris and his friend, Ashley of course, Sara, Chris F, Angel Corpus Christi that Ulrika met but unfortunately not me. And all nice people that came up to me and talked about what I write, I was so glad because of that. And Dean, Britta, Sean and Lee of course, they all came too. “All of a sudden, the girl of my dreams”. They are going to reprise “some of the hits” from the previous nights, they say. And they are playing Bewitched again. I am glad they do. Because I never got it filmed the first night they played it. “She wakes up angry, and I'm bewitched.”
And there she is again, walking down the few stairs at the side of the stage. The first few notes are shaky, but it's making things even better, creates a tension. Just like the first night, that sound, it gets under your skin. And really is something different at a Luna show. Guitars are nice, guitar are great, I love them, but it's hard to beat an instrument that's played with the whole body, the breathing, the air, the lungs, the whole person. It's revealing, more than any other types of instrument, you open up yourself, to everyone, stand naked, and miss Kelly Kyle is such a nice person, and her playing gets under your skin. Including the first shaky notes. “Kelly Kyle on the trumpet”, Sean says. She asked me for some Swedish candy before we left home, I went out and got some for her, it's hard to say no to miss Kelly Kyle.
The band continues the show, the last show of these wonderful three nights. We've seen many Luna shows the past two years, many. And neither of these three nights are some of the best as single concerts, but together, it just can't be compared to anything we've seen by this band, that maybe they've ever done before. It's something unique, and I just love how Dean loses his breath during Friendly Advice, struggling to sing the words, but he knows this song, they all know it so well, that they always play, well almost, but they play it now, they play it now and I'm so thankful. Everyone in the room, The Chapel, in the Mission, San Francisco, thankful, that's what we are, and happy, this is not just another band, my eyes gets wet just thinking of it, of them, together again, after all these years.
After the show we stayed in front of the stage, just like every night. To breathe, it's part of it, just to stay a while, soak it all in, see all the happy faces, see the people we like so much, just stay and talk a little bit. Go over to the bar and continue to hang out with friends. Just like the two previous nights somehow we were invited backstage after a while, it's fun of course, just this small room with a lot of people, Kelly handed out the candy to people, salty liquorice candy, typically Swedish. Most foreigners don't like it very much, but we've grown up with it. It's was fun watching Mike trying it, “what is this shit”, he says and spits it out. Ulrika and Greg are laughing standing in the doorway. Britta tries it too, her cheeks turns to an inverted blowfish, and Kelly and Giselle can't hide their amusement at watching her. Especially not Giselle. It's great to finally meet her again. Meet them all again.
Storm of the century, they said on the news during the weekend, three storms, “will hammer us” they said, on the American news. It's fun watching American news on tv, but they keep repeating themselves, over and over and over again. Some people prefer Fox, some prefer something else. I doubt Dean is watching Fox. Maybe for fun. I would like to film Dean while he's watching Fox news. Could be fun. But it's even more fun to hear Luna play 23 Minutes in Brussels, as the last encore, the last song of the show, of these three nights of perfection, no not perfection, because Luna is not perfection, far from it, they are human beings playing human music for human people, with faults, just like it should be. This was the last night, there where two more, I'll get back to those, and what happened. Dean is closing his eyes, his hair is messy, looking up, Britta is smiling. Let's say a prayer, for you and me.