Evan Dando live at Roseland Ballroom, New York - 30th November 1996

Review by Otto Luck from nyrock.com


The first time I saw Evan Dando perform in London in 1993, it was to a packed house where, if you weren't into moshing, you kept the hell out of the way of stage-front. It was at the end of the Lemonhead's most successful run. The show followed the release of the band's two best-selling releases to date, All About Ray and Come on Feel. It was also the beginning of a slow but inexorable slide into a drug-induced abyss for Dando, the proverbial lost weekend, which lasted the better part of the next three years, culminating with a stay in Boston's Silver Hill Hospital after Dando suffered a breakdown in Sydney, Australia.

At the Roseland Ballroom, on Saturday November 30, 1996, there was no moshing to be seen. The crowd was receptive but more sedate than its London counterpart. Dando appeared a little after 9:00 p.m., which was a relief since his reputation has him often arriving as late as two to three hours behind schedule.

Evan Dando is no snappy dresser. He appeared in a plaid shirt of your J.C. Penny/Sears variety and a pair of baggy slacks that could have been purchased from these same stores. He looked drawn but happy and clearly in control of his show. When bass player Bill Gibson had a problem with an audience member, Dando seemed unfazed and laughed it off with, "Uh oh, I think Billy's getting violent." It was a well-timed way to send a message to his sideman without disturbing the mood of the show.

The band opened with "It's All True" from their latest release, Car Button Cloth and followed with "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You" from the same CD. With the exception of a false start on "The Great Big No," the Lemonheads delivered a relatively consistent set marked by Dando's excellent songwriting and Bill Gibson's tuneful and effective harmony vocals.

The Roseland crowd called The Lemonheads back for an encore and the band delivered a post-set sampling of songs and random jam sessions, including a solo performance by Dando of "Different Drum," written by the Monkee's Mike Nesmith. The encore included five minutes of guitar noodling by what I imagine is one of Dando's party buddies. I couldn't quite make out the name but it was something like Yul Brenner, although the fellow had a full crop of hair and seemed much younger than the great thespian.

The bulk of the tunes performed at Roseland were taken from the band's new release. If you haven't yet heard Car Button Cloth, the CD is an eclectic if somewhat uneven mix of material that -- while highlighting Dando's songwriting gifts -- is clearly not the band's best work to date. Dando has said that Nick Cave has often criticized the Lemonheads' material for "not being dark enough." Car Button Cloth contains some disturbing cuts covering topics such as mental illness and homicide. Give "Losing Your Mind," a quick listen and you'll know that Dando has seen some dark hours. I do believe this one passes Cave's litmus test with flying colors.

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