Evan Dando live at McCabe's, Santa Monica - 20th April 2003

by Dan McIntosh from Paste Magazine online


Ironically, Evan Dando took another shaky step toward resurrecting his inconsistent music career on an Easter Sunday, a holiday where Christians traditionally celebrate the resurrected Christ. But an hour-and-a-half of Dando’s sloppy acoustic guitar playing and his bleary-eyed appearance, did little to instill confidence in this latest comeback attempt. And any ground he may have gained with some of the fine new songs on his debut solo album, “Baby I’m Bored,” was almost completely negated by this lackluster showcase.

The show began with two thudding false starts when Dando attempted to cover “Green Eyes,” by Grant Hart of Husker Du. Reading from a music stand – with chords he said he’d found on the internet – Dando stopped Replacement-like at about the halfway point each time. He even punctuated his second failure with a four-letter profanity. Oddly enough, Dando gave the song a third try when “Green Eyes” reappeared as his last pre-encore song of the night. But even with this performance, he was only able to get the guitar chords right after one sympathetic audience member shouted out the correct fingerings. (If at first and second you don’t succeed, Evan, sometimes it’s just best to give up and move on).

Dando sang quite a few Lemonheads songs, including “It’s A Shame About Ray,” “My Drug Buddy” and “Favorite T.” But rarely did he even come close to cracking a smile. Such a somber demeanor even turned the usually humorous “The Outdoor Type” into a total downer. The playing of the aptly titled “Rudderless,” on which Dando even forgot the fretwork to his own song (!), went a long way in exemplifying tonight’s laborious and klutz-y performance.

When Dando wasn’t struggling with the chord structures of his own repertoire, he was covering a wide-ranging array of favorite songs. These included Victoria Williams’ “Frying Pan,” a snippet of “Louie Louie,” Neil Young’s “Winterlong” and three – count ‘em, three -- songs from The Velvet Underground’s debut. The most harrowing of these Lou Reed classics was Dando’s rough-edged singing on “Heroin.” Surprisingly, it was on this tale of chemical addiction – something Evan is personally familiar with – that the singer/songwriter sounded the most focused of all. As Bob Marley once sang, “Him who feels it, knows it.”

Dando found room to play at least a few of the songs from his new solo album, but the lion’s share of this 25-song set was drawn from either Lemonheads songs, or eclectic covers. He said nothing in between songs, and didn’t even respond when one fan shouted out, “We’ve missed you.” A more accurate remark might have been, “We still miss you,” because the Evan Dando we used to know and love, has not quite returned to us yet.

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