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Velveteen rockers Luna bid Nashville adieu with sublime show at Exit/In

Velveteen rockers Luna bid Nashville adieu with sublime show at Exit/In

Farewells are awkward; they come too quickly and end too soon. So it's not surprising that Luna approached their Friday-evening performance at the Exit/In as just another show. This may be their final regular tour, but they have a new record to promote and, individually if not collectively, numerous creative opportunities on the horizon.

The evening's early selections featured highlights from the recently released Rendezvous before indulging the band's back catalog. And though their set provided less of a song showcase than one might have hoped, the new material proved more substantive and resilient than on CD. Truth is, a veteran touring band's survival and success are as much a function of sound and chemistry as songcraft: in this case, Dean Wareham's flat intonation and cryptic wordplay, Lee Wall and Britta Phillips' lithe, insinuating rhythms, and a twin guitar attack as lovely as it is distinctive.

By way of explication, critics often invoke Television's Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd, an inexact shorthand that nonetheless captures Luna's central riddle and allure. Generally, premier guitar bands flash virtuosic chops and muscular interplay. The achievements of Wareham and Luna's other guitarist, Sean Eden, are more intricate and subtle: the perceptive fill, the shimmering accent, the conversational build. So though their strong set delivered its share of cathartic rave-ups, the evening's most telling (and satisfying) moment may have been the hushed, ringing coda to "23 Minutes in Brussels."

And of course, it wasn't just another show. The mood was upbeat and spirited, but also bittersweet. Behind their practiced cool, the band's appreciation was apparent—for each other and for their warm, receptive audience. The second encore, Beat Happening's elegiac "Indian Summer" with its tagline, "Go our separate ways," proved thematic. After re-creating a similar alchemy in a handful of other cities, Luna too will pass.

—Scott Manzler

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