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Evan Dando live at Dingwalls, Camden - 20th February 2001

Review by Sarah B of the NME
Photo by Andy Willsher

No-one recognises him until he looks out from under that floppy hair and greets us with a cheerful "Hellooo!". The uncultivated unassumingness of Evan Dando is something others strain to project, but strain is not something the erstwhile Lemonheads frontman deals in. After several years in the wilderness, Evan's returned in solo mode minus label. There will be few surprises tonight, but it's good to hear his gently fearless songs again.

The songs pile lopsided in your head and sit there contentedly, while the lyrics run the whole exhausting, treacherous, poison-apple-flavoured gamut of emotion. The soggy-campfire pathos of The Outdoor Type is surrounded by songs about green leaves falling and forlorn feminine stoves, balanced by the vulnerable defiance of Big Gay Heart.

For such a self-confessed mouthy American, he's quiet, looking warmly inscrutable. Finally he pipes up, to apologise with a vaguely sheepish grin for missing his own gig (twice) at Glastonbury '95; he's not offering the sordid details, but his absence wasn't down to the weather. Promisingly, he plays a couple of new songs including Hard Drive, a little bleak and less colourful, but with the same couplet-happy wordplay ("A broken heart and two black eyes/But you should see the other guy"). He still has a shoebox under his bed full of all the simplest phrases no-one else thought to use, in a few small numbers that gawp at the miseries of life as at the light filtering through the cracks in a condemned house.

Does Evan round off with a rip through the poppy 1992 hit cover Mrs Robinson? As if. He strums, highly amusingly, through his own 'clean' version of Feel Good Hit Of The Summer - "Nicorette, Listerine, Head & Shoulders, Albasam - c-c-c-c-c-Colgaaate!" Evan's back, and this is a cosy, fragrant world you ache to crash out in.

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