The Tucson sky must've been dark all day with planes bringing in Luna fans from elsewhere; this was a show (on their farewell tour) for true believers. Devoting only a third of the set to their last two releases, Dean Wareham et al drew from deep in their catalog. Galaxie 500's "Tugboat," in the first encore, got the greatest crowd reaction of the night. Other vintage favorites included "California (All The Way)," from 1994's Bewitched; "I Can't Wait," from the band's 1992 debut, Lunapark; and the Beat Happening cover "Indian Summer," available on EP and vinyl only. Six other oldies were familiar even to latter-day fans via the band's 2001 Live album. Wednesday's performance of "Friendly Advice," first released on Bewitched, was a special treat. Those who bought the Arena Rock Live release were cheated of that track by an error in pressing. The band compensated fans by offering the live performance as an MP3 from its Web site, making an inside legend of the song.
Reverence for the band, and its impending demise, kept the crowd completely quiet within 50 feet of the stage (a rare occurrence at Club Congress), the better to follow Wareham's articulate and edgy lyrics, and to savor his voice, which seems to have grown more intimate with every record. Luna requires more concentration than most live shows, because it's impossible to decide whom to watch. Bassist Britta Phillips? Her doll-like looks aside, her imagination and technique are mesmerizing. With drummer Lee Wall, whose range most indie-rockers could only aspire to, Phillips anchors the grooves and rhythm hooks central to Luna's sound. But, of course, the guitarists get all the credit, and Sean Eden is particularly brilliant at coaxing every conceivable human state of mind from his strings.
Given the weight of its talents, an optimist might look forward to several new projects arising from Luna's ashes. The band, though, dashed all hope of its own renewal with its portentous final encore--a bookending selection from its Lunapark debut, "Time to Quit."