at Oxford Brookes University
10th October 2006
Review by Marc West from BBC Oxford
With only around 400 dedicated people in the audience tonight - less than half-capacity for Brookes SU – this could almost be considered an intimate show for The Lemonheads’ semi-comeback.
After two decades, the latest incarnation of the legendary pop-punk outfit consists of poster boy of Grunge, Evan Dando (of course!) along with ex-Zero Boy Vess Ruhtenberg on bass and drummer Devon Ashley – formerly of The Pieces.
Possibly in a bid to settle the nerves of all concerned, the set opens slowly with a salvo of songs that hardly inspire, but could still put most of the current crop of singer/songwriters to shame.
Considering that, for a long time, it was anticipated he would follow his friend and peer Kurt Cobain into the pantheon of narcotic burnouts, Evan looks surprising well – his trademark floppy fringe still gleams under the low light and never reveals his eyes - the man positively oozes charisma.
“We’re gonna play an old one now”, announces Dando, as the band kick into their 1992 hit, It’s A Shame About Ray – which causes one bloke to shake his crutches wildly in the air and sees Download presenter Tim Bearder reliving his past as a 16-year-old frontman!
When Evan removes his trendy Peacoat and picks up his battered ol’ acoustic, you can sense that something very special is about to commence. Indeed, we are treated to a greatest hits medley that’s much more than just an exercise in nostalgia. In fact, even current single Become The Enemy stands up well to his vast back catalogue.
Going solo does justice to the 40-year-old’s extraordinary voice and powerful lyrics. In fact, truly magical renditions of The Outdoor Type, My Drug Buddy and Confetti prompt full-on singalongs. Now, with the audience totally entranced, Evan delivers the goods and such is the rapturous reception, I suspect he could have held our attention all night.
It’s not often an artist who’s provided a soundtrack to so many pasts can come back sounding like they might be capable of doing the same in the future.