Luna - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Luna - Brudenell Social Club Leeds, UK

by Andy Brown Rating:10 Release Date:2011-11-23

As if the chance to see Luna on one of only four UK dates wasn’t exciting enough, today is also Dean Wareham’s birthday. The celebrations start with a set from London’s Flowers, a band presumably named after the opening track on Galaxie 500’s debut album. It would seem to be a huge coincidence otherwise, as not only are Flowers on tour with Luna but their hypnotic, dreamlike sound shares many of the qualities present in both of Wareham’s iconic dream-pop outfits.  

Opening song ‘Be With You’ displays Rachel Kenedy’s fragile yet assured vocals, the song's simple plea gaining emotional weight as the music gradually swells around her. For all of Flowers fragile, Sarah Records-esque qualities, there are some particularly spine-tingling moments when Sam Ayers’ guitar breaks out into walls of exhilarating fuzz.  The sets most startling moment however come’s when Kenedy sings a song completely unaccompanied, a sparse and stunning a-capella performance that’s met with quiet admiration from the assembled crowd.

There’s certainly a change in style with tonight’s second supporting act, the psychedelically inclined Hookworms. The band hasn’t played the Brudenell since November, so there’s an excitable buzz of anticipation in the air surrounding tonight’s return. Swathed in smoke and taking full advantage of the venues brand new PA system, the band start with the now familiar bombardment of blistering noise that leads into ‘Away/Towards’.

The volume is both overpowering and ecstatic, the sense of release palatable. I really could have called this article, ‘tonight I went to see Hookworms and stupidly forgot to take earplugs’ but it’s too late and far too exciting to worry about that now. ‘The Impasse’ is a thundering, 2 minute gallop that sounds far too livid, far too in-the-moment to be described as psychedelic while ‘On Leaving’ is pure, sonic euphoria.

MB’s repetitive bass leads us through the songs, giving us something to cling on to during the sets wild and relentless throb.  When the noise does subside, ever so slightly, during the driving positivity of ‘Retreat’ you catch some of MJ’s lyrics as he sings about having “a reason to love”. The songs take these personal snippets and transform them into a communal, life affirming release.  A psychedelic noise-band with tunes, commitment and tonnes of heart; it’s good to have Hookworms back.

Dean Wareham has been a consistently brilliant songwriter since first appearing during the late eighties with the sublime dream-pop of Galaxie 500. Luna came along during the early nineties and continued the good work, releasing twice as many albums as Wareham’s first band before going their separate ways in 2005. The fans haven’t gone anywhere though and the Brudenell Social Club is packed out for one last chance to hear these songs live.  

There’s a guy in the audience who announces that he’ll be following the band up to Glasgow the very next night, that’s the kind of commitment these incredibly special songs command. Wareham’s songs have always carried a simple, heartfelt quality to them that makes them feel immensely personal to anyone lucky enough to fall for their charms.

The band opens with the late-night swoon of ‘Chinatown’ as Wareham sings of, “chasing girlies” and “rushing round in taxi cabs”. The song recalls the laid-back, technicolour pop of the Velvet Underground’s Loaded-period, especially as Wareham and Britta Phillips harmonise during the songs outro. There’s a contented, dare I say happy, vibe to the likes of ‘Malibu Love Nest’ that’s heartening, hopeful and quietly inspiring.

There’s a comforting serenity to many of Luna’s finest moments, perfectly complimented by Wareham’s distinctive lead guitar. Wareham and, second guitarist, Sean Eden weave themselves through the songs blissful, flowing structures with ease. The band look relaxed and happy to be back on stage together, they know how great these songs are.

’23 Minutes in Brussels’ struts and swoons in equal measure; leading to some hypnotic interplay between Wareham and Eden’s spiralling guitars. The shimmering, romantic glory of ‘Bewitched’ is particularly stunning as Wareham quietly sings about the girl of his dreams over one of the bands most vulnerable, tender and nakedly beautiful compositions. We even get some singing in French with the saucy Serge Gainsbourg and Brigette Bardot ballad, ‘Bonnie & Clyde’. It’s a great, great song that also manages to show that the band don’t take themselves too seriously.

We get a communal giggle as a slightly dissatisfied punter shouts the confusing battle-cry of, “get giddy or die!” Well, you can’t please everyone. Everyone else seems enraptured and is all too happy to serenade Dean with a chorus of “happy birthday to you” on Britta’s request.

Just when things can’t get much better the band come back for a few more songs, indulging us with Galaxie 500 bone-a-fide classic ‘Tugboat’ and the Beat Happening’s ‘Indian Summer’. This might be the last I hear from Luna but I sure hope Dean Wareham doesn’t stay away too long. These songs are absolutely essential.   

Photos by Sara Montgomery and myself

Comments (2)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I love Luna and they're coming to Sydney !!

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Yeah, it was a great show. Second time I've seen Mr Wareham play, hope he plays the Brude again

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