Review of Evan Dando live at De Melkweg, Amsterdam
18th May 2003

by Damian Leslie from Incendiary Mag

It's been too long since we've heard anything official from Evan Dando. The Lemonheads broke up donkeys years ago and after various stop starts with different ventures and a few years of just getting his shit together it's a delight to see Evan Dando again. Apparently he's managed to kick his H habit and as he appears tonight it's wonderful to report how healthy he looks. When I saw him a couple of years ago in the Paradiso he seemed a bit out of it and his voice managed a slow drawl that didn't sound entirely natural. That night he just busked his way through his back catalogue with one guitar and a few effect pedals. Tonight's show was pretty much a carbon copy of that night. If you're going to come on stage with the minimum of equipment you've got to have some kind of stage presence to make it work. Thankfully Dando has charm coming out of his arsehole, so we had no problems on that front.

Things started off a bit frosty, the majority of people just chatting away to their friends. "It's so nice that you all just take the time to chill out and just listen," said Evan sarcastically at one point. He had a point too, because this always happens in Amsterdam. The Dutch can talk in four languages, but can they whisper in any of them? Or even talk quietly? It's really annoying when you're watching a performer and instead of hearing your favorite song you're hearing about Jip and Janneke's day out in Zandvoort from some loudmouth standing a few feet away from you. Evan was referring to a bunch of guys who were yelling and laughing with each other to the side of the stage and his way of shutting them up was impressive. Pounding on the guitar strings to make them sound urgent and staring the guy talking full in the face until he finally quit. He never stopped the show or even the song he was playing and the extra power he put into the playing turned 'It's About Time' into something rather sinister. The guys gave him a couple of minutes silence before realizing that they still preferred the sound of their own voices and began shouting amongst themselves again.

At this point most artists would just get pissed off and try to forget about it, but Evan decided to turn his attention away from the guys and onto the rest of the crowd. Cleverly he started to make the gig a lot more interactive, encouraging us to whistle along with 'Stop My Life' and using members of the crowd as different instruments during 'In The Grass All Wine Coloured'. The atmosphere became a lot more jovial, the talking stopped and everyone started singing along (especially to a wonderful, audience led, 'Drug Buddy') and applauding wildly.

With the whole crowd on board he found himself a lot of room to experiment. We were treated to a number of covers tonight, four Gram Parsons songs, a startling angry rendition of the Misfits' I want Your Skulls and a wonderful version of Neil Young's Thrasher. All these mixed in with a host of Lemonheads classics and the majority of new album, Baby I'm Bored.

In one of my all time favorite songs 'The Outdoor Type', which was played tonight Evan sings, "I can't go away with you on a rock climbing weekend. What if something's on tv and it's never shown again?"

I'm glad I didn't stay home tonight. Great show.


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