at Leeds Metropolitan University
8th October 2006
Review by Ryan Finnigan from Glasswerk
As Evan Dando arrives on stage before the lights have been dimmed and the music has stopped, it is clear that the talk is true. Dando and the new Lemonheads line-up have an approach and an on-stage quality that is admirably professional and well rehearsed. Launching quickly into 'Down About It', the message that the band is here with something to prove and to put on a good show is quickly made clear.
The three-piece, seeing Dando accompanied by bassist Karl Alvarez and drummer Bill Stevenson [sic], both of The Descendents, are not just professional but are clearly having fun. Exchanged looks and smiles between Dando and Alvarez display a chemistry that is clear through the quality of the performance and the two congregate a few times in front of Stevenson's drums for spontaneous jams following some of the songs, including 'It's a Shame About Ray'
The sound of the band is mostly rich and full, with all three members providing vocals and Dando reminding the crowd of his guitar talents as he plays some blistering solos, particularly on 'Confetti'. The band lack authority in very few moments and even then they don't drop the ball for long, seeing a flat performance of 'It's About Time' followed by one of the highlights of the evening, 'Great Big No'.
The band leaves after around 55 minutes, leaving Dando to give an acoustic solo performance of around 8 songs. Mixing crowd pleasing tracks such as 'Being Around' and 'The Outdoor Type' with perhaps less well known songs from his solo album 'Baby, I'm Bored' and a cover of The Misfits 'Skulls', Dando plays confidently before bringing back on the band for the final tracks of the night.
The return of The Lemonheads is one reminiscent of the recent reformation and tour by Pixies, as they blast through a total of 28 songs in around 90 minutes. The setlist covers every album spanning between Lovey and the eponymously-titled new album, providing a pleasing balance between the old and the new, leaving it difficult for anyone to complain.
Perhaps it could be remarked that with the seemingly ageless Dando standing on stage in his often worn black and white striped shirt, the band playing 9 out of 12 songs from 'It's a Shame About Ray' and Dando still wearing his influences on his sleeves as he plays a Gram Parsons cover, that the 10 year hiatus has not seen any progression of The Lemonheads. This may be true in some senses, but the performance marks a welcome and triumphant return of a band with a new vigour and maturity, which is enough to distract anyone from such thoughts.