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Review of Evan Dando live at Lee's Palace, Toronto
3rd May 2004

by Marco Ursi from Exclaim!

Arriving on a stage blasting a portable stereo into the microphone, Evan Dando set the tone for what will surely go down as one of the year’s strangest shows. The scraggly former Lemonheads front-man was first seen at the front of the stage during the opening set by Montreal’s All Systems Go! Led by former Doughboys vocalist/guitarist John Kastner, the band had good energy but their set was generally lacking spark.

Dando arrived on stage alone and performed the solo portion of his set on one of the most beaten up acoustic guitars I’ve ever seen. Running through Lemonheads classics like "My Drug Buddy" and "Style" with the crowd crooning every word, the campfire sing-along vibe made up for the technically flawed performances. But things started to get strange from there. With his drummer incapacitated, thanks to a broken foot, Dando invited his bassist on stage to perform as a duo, and while he’s a more than competent player, the duo sounded awkward without the rhythmic punch.

Dando soon randomly decided to go behind the drum kit, got confused by the left-handed set-up leftover from the opening set, thrashed the drums for less than a minute, gave up and moved back to his acoustic guitar. After a couple more wonky numbers, All Systems Go! joined Dando on stage for an impromptu run through of Neil Young’s "Cortez The Killer," complete with nasty feedback-drenched soloing from Dando. With Dando seemingly at a loss for what to do next, the crowd started calling out songs. But instead of giving us "It’s A Shame About Ray" or "Alison’s Starting To Happen," Dando decided to attempt Lynryd Skynrd’s "Freebird." He didn’t make it past the first verse.

Ending the set with another haphazard Lemonheads tune, Dando thanked the crowd for their patience, walked off stage and despite a valiant attempt by the audience, did not return for an encore.

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