Evan Dando and Tim Rogers at the Corner Hotel, Richmond - 26th February 2004
Review by Dan Oakes from The Age
Why would you pay $30 or $40 to go to a gig and then stand at the back of the room talking for the entire evening? Not only does the constant jabbering - and it seems to be worse at the Corner than most other places - distract the people who come to hear the music, but it also distracts the artist, whose confidence, presumably, rests in part in the knowledge that people are actually listening.
That said, Tim Rogers didn't do himself any favours on Thursday night. Anybody expecting some sort of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young supergroup would have been disappointed, as the three names on the bill came out one after the other armed only with acoustic guitars, although Rogers and Dando later covered Gram Parsons' $1000 Wedding together as an encore.
Bob Evans (aka Kevin Mitchell from Perth popsters Jebediah) was perfectly pleasant, even managing to make Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head audible above the din, and it was a safe bet that Rogers would charm the crowd with his ear for a hook and exuberant personality.
But it was bad, very bad. Rogers wandered out and proceeded to regale an obnoxious crowd with what one person described as "motel room jam tracks". It actually reached the stage where he raised the possibility of whacking some moron who heckled him. It's hard to know what was more symptomatic of the whole sorry business - the heckler or the reaction.
Undoubtedly there were people present whose knees were trembling at the thought of hearing Purple Sneakers or Cathy's Clown, and no artist should feel obliged to dwell in the past, but a couple of judiciously chosen You Am I tracks could have kick-started the set. A passionless rendition of Heavy Heart and a cover of the Kinks' Victoria certainly failed to do the job.
Rogers finished the set to what can only be described as generous applause and was relieved by Gram Parsons. Well, he walked like G.P., talked like G.P. and looked like G.P., but, as the red-suited figure struck the opening chords of Into Your Arms it became apparent that we were witnessing yet another chapter in the weird and wonderful life of Evan Dando.
When the indie rock legend visited Australia last August, adjectives such as "shambolic", "unprofessional" and "appalling" were used in the pages of this newspaper to describe his shows. The latest incarnation of Dando looked sleek, intense and fit, if a little morose; but more importantly, he sounded fantastic. He rattled through the Lemonheads's back catalogue with gusto, making the likes of Rudderless, My Drug Buddy and Hey Kindness sound as if they were made to be performed by one man with an acoustic guitar. He turned If I Could Talk I'd Tell You into an anti-George Bush protest song. He indulged the Gram Parsons obsession, evident from his Baby I'm Bored solo album, by covering How Much I've Lied and $1000 Wedding. He had the metaphorical lighters waving in the air with Big Gay Heart.
The numbers from Baby I'm Bored were not as catchy as the Lemonheads material, but there were some crackers among them, particularly the sombre, insinuating Hard Drive. If this is what marriage and getting clean does to you, then it should become a compulsory regime for all rock stars. Maybe there's a whole new period of creativity ahead for a Dando who appears to have put his life back together.