"It’s just that kind of night, I guess," explained Evan Dando after cutting a song off at the ten second mark and deciding to try something else.
It wouldn’t be the only time Dando cut a tune short during the Lemonheads’ quarter full show Friday night at the Granada. So I guess he was right about the night.
Sometimes the notoriously fickle front man feels it and sometimes he doesn’t. The thing is, despite Dando’s perceived moodiness and aloofness towards the crowd, he still has the voice and ability to carry a show.
This much was obvious at times on Friday night…
Dando started the night onstage with just an acoustic guitar and a knod toward the crowd made up mostly of what seemed to be hardcore Lemonheads fans in their mid-thirties and early forties.
First up was Bein’ Around, a sweet song about a girl. He wasted absolutely no time before strumming into Outdoor Type next, a funny song about a guy who lies about his camping abilities to get a girl.
Dando’s voice sounds just like it did 20 years ago, and so does his guitar playing, which was never really his strong suit. His hair’s the same too. A few more with just Dando and a guitar and it was ready to bring out the band, which consisted of hired guns Chuck Treece of the Bad Brains on drums and former Taking Back Sunday bassist Fred Mascherino.
For this tour Dando and his band is playing the whole album, It’s a Shame About Ray, at every stop.
So he switched over to his trademark Gibson SG and tore into the famous and fast opening riff from Rock’n Stroll. The sound was initially sloppy and muddy with the added musicians and Dando’s loose guitar playing, but that improved pretty quickly, and there’s nothing else he had to play the rest of the night as fast as that first riff.
By the second song, Confetti, all was right with the levels. The band replicated pretty well the 20 year old tunes from Ray, minus Juliana Hatfield‘s pixie vocals, of course.
The band blazed through another couple without so much as a glance at the audience.
Was it just me, or was Dando kind of sad?
I mean, the sidemen are just doing their jobs, they aren’t the Lemonheads. Whatever Dando says goes. But at times the show felt like Dando was playing just to keep a promise or something. Like, "I told them I’d do Shame About Ray, so I’m going to do it. As quickly as possible."
One song rolled into another with no space in between. Willie Nelson does that, but that’s his thing, you know? And Willie seems to enjoy it.
When the band got to the seventh song off Ray, Bit Part, the vibe just got weird. On the recording the song starts out with Juliana Hatfield screaming, "I just want a bit part in your life! I JUST WANT A BIT PART IN YOUR LIFE!!"
But instead, Dando did the lines like a newscaster reading a teleprompter, spoken flat as can be.
The next song though, Alison’s Starting to Happen, kicked some serious ass. Probably the best song of the show. Same with the next couple, Hannah & Gabbi and Kitchen, really energetic and solid musically.
And so it went all night – Evan and his band flying through tunes with little to no banter, and a kind of odd disconnected feeling floating around the venue.
I walked away just as much of a Lemonheads fan as before, but wishing I had seen them live about 15 years ago.