Luna at Fletcher’s in Baltimore

Saw my favorite band on Friday night. Jenn got me tickets to see Luna for my Christmas present and I’ve been waiting patiently for the show to come around. I wasn’t disappointed. This was the third time I’ve seen them live, and the first time I’ve been to Fletcher’s here in Balto.

The first time I saw them was at the Academy in Manhattan. (The venue was in midtown, but I think it’s gone now.) Luna was opening for the Sundays, and although I loved the Sundays, I was transfixed by Dean Wareham’s guitar and his almost-just-talking voice, and the sardonically funny lyrics like: “You can never give/ The finger to the blind”, “I look at my dog/ we’re both confused.” I couldn’t find the album anywhere — maybe it hadn’t come out yet.

The next time I heard them , though, was on a CMJ “Certain Damage” disc which my friend Rob — a CMJ employee — had given me. When I came across “Tiger Lily,” [clip at Amazon] I put the Discman on repeat and listened to it for the rest of my shift at the newspaper. The next morning I went and bought the first album, Luna and the Slide EP, and subjected everyone I knew to my endless rants about how awesome they were.

The second time we saw them play was at Irving Plaza on the Penthouse tour. We’d driven down to Manhattan from our place in Albany, NY just for the show, and we’d be driving back right afterwards since we both had to work the next morning. We had no drugs in us, no alcohol (Irving Plaza back then only served Heineken & Rolling Rock in plastic cups for US$5 a pop, and life is too short for bad beer) and still, I became lost in “Chinatown” and I didn’t surface again until the houselights came on. I’d forgotten where I was, and when I turned to Jenn, she just whispered, “That was the most amazing show I’ve ever seen.”She’d been lost, too.

Friday’s show wasn’t a transformative experience like that earlier one, but it still ranks with some of the best. Fletcher’s is a tiny club and it was completely sold out. The opening band (Calla) had to cancel for some reason, so there was a guy playing an acoustic guitar and a keyboard (someone said it was John Mayer, but I can’t really be sure…) Luna came on around 11:30, Dean Wareham looking really skinny and (relatively) new bassist Britta Phillips looking really gorgeous. They didn’t say much, just launching into a set that covered most of my favorites, with the exception of “California” and “Chinatown.” They hit a high point in the extended “23 Minutes In Brussels” and if it weren’t for the distraction of water suddenly pouring out of one of the track lights in the black-painted ceiling right next to us, I think I would’ve been spirited away once again.

Still, this show (and Aimee Mann at the Recher Theater in Towson last month) made me realize how much I miss going to shows. So, I think I know what my first real New Year’s resolution is…