Evan Dando live at Avalon, Boston
16th December 2006
Review by Christopher John Treacy from The Boston Herald
What could be more appropriate than Evan Dando covering Gram Parsons? Both are seemingly tragic figures, projecting sadness with Messianic irresistibility, and Dando’s choice to play Parson’s “How Much I’ve Lied” near the end of his Avalon set Saturday night was eerily telling.
But while Parsons didn’t make it, Dando has survived - long enough to record a stellar new self-titled Lemonheads CD and hit the road. Though Saturday’s display was a sloppy mixed bag, The Lemonheads have never been about tight, tidy performing. In this case, it’s the spirit of the occasion that matters most.
Thankfully for the two-thirds capacity crowd, after a klutzy start the show improved through a generous course of 31 songs. Dando’s mood swung like a pendulum throughout the epic homecoming set, also the final night of this tour. Driving tunes such as “Black Gown,” (after a false start), Tenderfoot” and “Pittsburgh” gave way to the more contemplative “Ride With Me,” which boasted some decent guitar work. The politically charged “Let’s Just Laugh” was sandwiched between “It’s About Time” and “The Great Big No,” both buoyant power-pop anthems. The trio reached a pinnacle of creative flow during the title track from 1992’s breakthrough, “It’s a Shame about Ray,” making clear once and for all that the punk-pop craze owes The Lemonheads a thing or two.
Dando wound down intimately with a handful of acoustic tunes including “Being Around,” “Frying Pan” and the charmingly self-deprecating “Outdoor Type.” Vess Ruhtenberg’s bass was even and dutiful, but drummer Devon Ashley’s powerhouse chops and spot-on timing were nothing short of revelatory.
With hair obscuring his facial features and a havoc-causing cowlick in the back, Dando’s suspiciously blissful expression recalled Ashton Kutcher’s lovable but dim Kelso character from “That ’70s Show.” His proud-stoner image is both an asset and a liability, but his grin is perpetually tempered with heartbreaking melancholy. It’s enough to make you think, “It’s a shame about Evan.”