A marriage of three live recordings, this album is an excellent introduction to a band who have released five albums now but have yet to get past the “critical acclaim” stage of their careers and hit the big time.
All three shows were recorded on the East Coast of the USA, one in Washington DC and the other two in New York. So rather than simply release a recording of a random gig, this is a concerted effort to showcase Luna’s repertoire, picking and choosing which tracks from which recordings that best represent the energy and poignancy of the band as they see themselves live. Founder Dean Wareham says, “You need the energy of the audience, you need to have a couple of drinks and perhaps be a little nervous… You have to be performing for someone other than a recording engineer.”
The album ranges from the delicate, hushed introduction of ‘Bewitched’ through the upbeat ‘Chinatown’ to the jazzy beat of ‘Pup Tent’. Dean Wareham sounds like an American soulmate of Darren Hayman of Hefner and I suspect Hefner have heard this band before. In places the similarity is uncanny. No random coincidence can be deployed in explanation for why ‘Tiger Lily’ opens in such a similar way to ‘The Greedy Ugly People’. But where Hefner will open quietly and gradually build up big crescendos, full of guitar and Hammond, Luna manage to keep roughly the same mood and pace.
The main difference between the live sets captured here and the studio albums is probably the lack of mellotron, cello or keyboard, deliberately left behind when the band are touring. As a result, the recording is very guitar-based. But this is not a band of heavy rock; rather a band of humour and intelligent arrangements who deserve to go on to greater things.