Given that the band up there on stage had a former resident of Herne Bay and a current one of Piha, you might think this was just another Saturday night Auckland pub gig. You'd be wrong.

For this was the first ever New Zealand performance of Luna, a group which became standard bearers for a very New York flavour of rock'n'roll through the 90s, here for the first time on a reunion tour a decade after calling it a day in the mid-noughties.

Singer-guitarist Dean Wareham is New Zealand-born. On stage he quipped he'd left Herne Bay - "is it still there?" - as an infant with his globetrotting family. That was about the time the Velvet Underground were creating the template for Luna's simple dreamy rock'n'roll.

Having done time in late 80s Boston-born Galaxie 500, Wareham formed Luna with former Chills bassist Justin Harwood (the Piha connection) who left the band after 1999's fifth album The Days of Our Nights to be replaced by Britta Phillips.


At the Tuning Fork in front of a crowd containing Wareham's relatives, guest ring-in Harwood was back on four-string for the second half of Luna's set as Phillips shifted to keyboards.

And after his strummed bass-chord intro to Slide - the opening track off the debut album Lunapark - and the likes of Friendly Advice with its busy chug of a bassline, the set shifted up a gear or two.

But it had been cruising along beautifully until then, especially with the combined guitars of Wareham and Sean Eden, the slippery lead lines of the latter against the former's deft rhythm and lead touches reminding why the band have had comparisons to NY art-guitar band Television over the years. Especially on set centrepiece 23 Minutes in Brussels.

This might have been a nostalgia tour and with a set which long-time followers would have found satisfying though low on surprises - other than maybe non-album track Indian Summer, a make-it-their-own cover of 80s US indie pioneers Beat Happening during the encore.

But as the band so coolly picked the eyes out of the early albums, Luna also reminded that during the grunge-fired alt-rock explosion of the 90s, they were an elegant alternative to the alternative and remain so today.