10 Years Later, a 'Kinder, Gentler' Luna is Ready to Pick Up Where They Left Off
Photo by Nitin Vadukul
The details of Dean Wareham's last American tour stop with Luna still linger in the singer's memory. More than a decade after the acclaimed dream-pop outfit walked offstage together for the last time, Wareham remembers the cab waiting for him outside of the Bowery Ballroom and the thick layers of snow canvassing Manhattan's city streets. And although he's less certain about the exact date, he's not too far off on those particulars, either. ("It was February 28, 2005, something like that. It was a Sunday or Monday.")
But more than the minutiae of time, place, and weather, Wareham remembers the feeling of bringing Luna to a stop. The quartet's last tour was a constant reminder of what he was getting ready to leave behind, he recalls. After fourteen years and seven studio albums together, Wareham and his bandmates were tired, not only of the music they had toured around for more than a decade, but also of one another. Stepping away was necessary, but it was hardly easy.
"That farewell tour was emotionally exhausting," he says. "There were just so many goodbyes. There was a seven month lead-up to the final night, so it was weird. It was weird walking off the stage for the last time ever."
Formed in 1991 in the wake of Wareham's now-seminal space pop group, Galaxie 500, Luna took that former band's penchant for lush soundscapes and pleasant melodies into more pop-savvy terrain. Whatever stresses or resentment Wareham, bassist Britta Phillips, guitarist Sean Eden, and drummer Lee Wall shouldered following Luna's dissolution have since faded away, enough so for the band to reunite around their old tunes. Having regrouped for a run of fourteen shows in Spain earlier this spring, Luna are currently in the midst of their first proper U.S. tour since their reconciliation, discounting their one-off appearance at Brooklyn's Northside Festival in June.
Having long ago carved out a cultish niche for themselves, Wareham says Luna is embracing their second wind. Without the pressure of touring behind new material (there are no plans for penning or recording new songs for the band, he says), the band is happy to simply go wherever the reunion takes them. Sometimes its the lure of travel that brings them together to play; other times the pay out is just too good to pass up.
"It's certainly healthier," Wareham says of Luna's current state. "This is a kinder, gentler Luna. We're not mad at each other anymore. I don't know. That's the other thing you learn over time, just 'Why were we mad with each other?' That's all kind of gone."
The US trek, which kicked off in Atlanta on October 3, has offered the guitar-pop act an opportunity at rediscovering its lilting back catalog. Rather than trotting out a rigid set list to the stage night after night, Wareham says he and his bandmates are rotating 40 or so songs in and out of their set each night, allowing early cuts from Bewitched and Penthouse to share the same stage with tracks from their 2004 swan song, Rendezvous.
"I didn't really like that record that much," he says of Luna's final album. "Now I listen to it and think it's one of our best records. I've been really enjoying playing from that."
Luna's upcoming three-night New York residency includes back-to-back shows at the Bowery on October 7 and October 8, followed by a show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on October 9. Opening a new chapter in the band's history in the same place that they closed things down, the Bowery Ballroom shows provide an interesting bookend to the Luna story. There are no mixed emotions in play, only excitement.
"It's more fun saying hello than saying goodbye," Wareham says.
Luna play the Bowery Ballroom October 7 and October 8; they'll also play the Music Hall of Williamsburg October 9. All three shows have sold out, but check secondary markets for tickets.
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