Lemonheads live at Leadmill, Sheffield - 8th April 1993
Review by Gina Morris from NME
"My favourite British band is erm..." Evan Dando is clumsily perched on a high stool In the hospitality bar backstage at tonight's venue, serenely supping half a bitter through his lank hair and looking somewhat bemused.
See, we already know that the Lemonheads' frontman is a pin-up, a fake dippy beach bum, a pop star who shamelessly pens his lyrics around his personal affairs. We know he writes beautiful, Inspiring, emotive love songs, centred around stunningly melodious hook lines; but what we want to know is who he aspires to this side of the Atlantic.
"Well," he drawls, "I guess my favourite British band has to be Black Sabbath."
Soon after, a gaggle of young girls huddle at the front of the stage, drooling at Evan's feet, and screaming at every coy nod he throws their way. At at the back, meanwhile, the 'serious' fans look on; gently swaying, mouthing the words and soaking up the performance. The crowd are a vast cross-section of people, all satisfied with their own interpretation - be it musical or sexual.
Security are preparing themselves for a teenage mobbing, standing ready to usher out the photographers after three songs to save them getting hurt in the expected 'crush' (which never happens). And all because the Lemonheads bridge the age/sex gap, as a one-time all-out college rock band who are now on their way to (s)exploitative teeny pop while retaining a remarkably large amount of credibility. How? Well, Evan Dando is a marketable commodity, a cover star whose ubiquitous face is only just less prevalent than that of Brett Anderson.
It all started, of course, when the Lemonheads performed their version of Slmon & Garfunkel's `Mrs Robinson' on Top Of The Pops, whereupon they broadened their appeal and enchanted a whole new generation who immediately ran out to buy the album, only to be left wondering what it was all about.
Thankfully, they don't include their 'hit' in tonight's all-too-brief 25 minute set. It'd be mere padding alongside 'Confetti', the sleazy, laid-back 'Drug Buddy' (so laid-back that drummer Dave Ryan manages to casually smoke a fag between beats) and the assertive pop classic 'Alison's Starting'. And brand new song 'It's About Time' - written for ex-girlfriend (now best friend) Juliana Hatfield - is yet another open doorway into Evan's anxieties and insecurities; he pours out the line "I don't want to get my fingers burnt/unless it's an accident" without a hint of remorse.
Despite parading himself and several real life characters through his songs with reckless abandon, Evan somehow manages to appear both mysterious and defensive. For the most part, his face is shrouded by a mane of blond hair, like he doesn't dare to look out at the unwitting samaritans before him, though occasionally he'll offer a nervous "any requests?" or a curt "thanks for coming".
True, his dopey Dylan (the languid guitar-strumming rabbit) image is controlled, contrived and rather over-emphasised - there is a sharp, quick-witted guy shielded by dumb shyness in there somewhere - but there seems little point In dropping the facade now. After all, the Lemonheads are only just starting to happen. Now, about Black Sabbath.....