The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday October 20th

Luna Performs Live at the Cradle

Luna Saturday, June 22

Cat's Cradle

Members Dean Wareham (vocals, guitar), Sean Eden (guitar), Britta Phillips (bass) and Lee Wall (drums) dabbled in the artistry of the band's decade-long history. Incorporating songs from 1994's Bewitched, arguably its best album to date, with tunes from Penthouse and its latest release Romantica, to name a few, Luna revealed its "hard" rock side.

Exemplary guitar playing highlighted by extended solos and jam sessions made songs such as "Tiger Lily" and "Freakin' and Peakin'" shine with a radiance that can't be detected from Luna's studio recordings. What was a perfectly scripted melody became an abstract whirlwind of strings and fingers evoking the type of mellow yet satisfied head bobbing that's so indicative of Luna's sound.

But herein lies the minor flaw of live Luna. While the band members seemed to be somewhat enjoying the stage lights, the music and the crowd, their body language and facial expressions suggested the opposite. Eden was the most into his groove, as he gave the occasional raised eyebrow and set of pursed lips. But Wareham's most enthusiastic move was switching guitars, while Phillips simply snuck in a periodic sway of the hip and Wall chugged away unnoticed.

No, Luna is not an ordinary rock band. There are no stage antics. There aren't that many road stories or interesting segues between songs. Luna exists to play its music for the foot tappers and head bobbers of the world. Dancing at a Luna show is most likely unheard of -- a nice slow swing or shuffle with a beer in one hand and the other in your pocket is probably the best reaction.

It's not as if they didn't try. Wareham and Eden gave credit to the band's occasional classification of classic rock. Their solos were interesting, well-timed and did not develop into one of those half-hour-long jams where the name of the song or when it began becomes forgotten.

Phillips proved a welcome addition to the band with her adept adaptation of the closing track to Penthouse's "Bonnie & Clyde." Originally sung by Wareham as a duet in French with Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier, the song is a sort of trademark with its violin-esque loops and quiet banshee yelps. Though Phillips lacked the sultriness of Sadier and the enunciation, she is definitely on the right track.

That statement itself seems to encapsulate the Luna experience. Constantly developing its sound under the pressure of often rotating band members, the band still packs the same punch as it did at its inception a decade ago. Now is the time just to wait and see -- wait for the next time the tour rolls into town and see Luna whenever they do come around.

The Arts & Entertainment Editor can be reached at artsdesk@unc.edu.

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