at San Francisco Bath House, Wellington NZ
27th March 2007
Review by Simon Sweetman from The Dominion Post
When Dando played a solo show in Wellington in 2004, he played mostly Lemonheads material.
He's only recorded one official solo album in the past 10 years between Lemonheads records, but it was no surprise when late last year the new band album was released.
The eponymously titled set of songs is vintage Dando – and vintage Lemonheads.
The Paul Westerberg influence of gently buzzing post-punk melodies is still strong; the laconic, stoned-over, shoe-gazing delivery is still there. Nothing has changed.
And so, this Lemonheads gig featured many of the same songs performed acoustically on Dando's solo visit three years ago. The only difference is that Dando's erratic personality is more obvious and makes for plenty of on-stage distractions. Tune-ups and discordant jamming infiltrate the planned material; sometimes it worked brilliantly, sometimes it was frustrating. The template for the actual songs remains stunningly simple: The Replacements- meets-Pixies-meets-ghost of Gram Parsons.
Dando's slacker pop-rock anthems are easy to like and blast by with the efficiency of Motorhead but without any of the metal thunder or sneer. They are cowboy-like, campfire singalongs set to a sunny pop beat.
Highlights on the night included many gems from the seminal Lemonheads album It's a Shame About Ray, the drug-psychosis freak-out that is Style and a completely unplugged (and unhinged) solo version of The Outdoor Type – a song that best shows Dando's stoner-on-the-couch mentality, with lines like: "I can't go away with you on a rock-climbing weekend/what if something's on TV and it's never shown again?"
The new drummer and bassist performed dutifully, particularly having to deal with Dando's off-timing and false-starts. But most of the crowd seemed to see that as part of his charm. It got ridiculous toward the end; the dissonant, free-form improvisation seemed to only be missing an Andy Warhol- endorsed back-lit projection. Oh, and I don't mean that in a good way.
But, for the most part, Dando, a wasted talent, remains endearingly ragged.