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Evan Dando live at the Paradise Club, Boston MA - 1st January 2002

Review by Sarah Rodman

 

Evan Dando has emerged every three to six months from his hidey-hole to play a lovely hour-long set at a local venue.

The deservedly beloved former Lemonhead has proved each time - at the Brattle Theatre last October, at Lilli's in May and T.T. the Bear's in August - that his remarkably supple and honeyed tenor and pop-rock smarts have survived several years of well-documented alcohol and drug abuse.

Dando's extremely mellow set Saturday night at the Paradise was no exception; in fact, it was pretty much the same show he has been playing all year. The difference was that he is now playing with a more well-rehearsed band of local all-stars, dubbed the Rebel Crue 2002, featuring guitarist Chris Brokaw of Come, bassist Winston Braman of Fuzzy and drummer Mike Kadane. Dando and the band sounded great wending their way through his former band's sunny and winsome catalog and mixing in a handful of new tunes.

But the heavy-lidded, 34-year-old Boston native looked a little scruffy and seemed even more lethargic than usual. Though that sleepy vibe didn't exactly detract from the quality of the performance - it even enhanced a few of the more downbeat numbers - ennui definitely settled like a haze over the two-thirds capacity crowd.

The night began with the bounce of "Hospital'' from the Lemonheads' last album, 1996's underrated "CarButtonCloth,'' and the jangly new tune "The Same Thing You Thought Hard About Is the Same Thing I Can Live Without.''

Much of the rest of the show was given over to tunes from the Lemonheads' 1992 breakthrough album, "It's a Shame About Ray", including the burbling and wistful title track, the stuttery pop of "Confetti'' and "Rudderless,'' the lovely "Hannah and Gabi'' and melancholic "My Drug Buddy,'' which seemed even sadder in this slow-motion, narcoleptic atmosphere.

Several of the new songs were familiar to fans in the audience from past shows, including the Ben Lee-penned country shuffle "All My Life'' and the autumnal "Hard Drive.'' A master of the small, intimate moment, Dando displayed a slacker's charm on both the clever anti-nature ode "The Outdoor Type'' and the whimsical "Being Around.'' And he managed to howl like a mongrel and break two strings on the sunshine-flooded ``Into Your Arms.''

Dando recently released a live import CD of one of the Brattle shows and has formed a group called the Virgins with current "it'' boy Ryan Adams and former Smashing Pumpkins James Iha and Melissa Auf Der Maur. But it's high time he got to work on a new record, because this particular set, while pleasant, is getting stale.

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