Lemonheads live at Somerset House, London -16th July 2006

Review by John Aizlewood from The Evening Standard


Not so bitter lemons

Already a fixture of London's summer circuit, this year's defiantly eclectic season at the imperial and imperious Somerset House came to an end last night.

'Wow,' noted lanky Lemonheads singer and guitarist Evan Dando, 'what a special evening. Mind you, we'll be over here so many times in the next few months, and not one of you will come to see us.'

That may be less likely than he assumed, for Dando gave a surprised audience member what he claimed was his work permit as he departed.

Lemonheads - the shiny-haired Dando, plus a pick-up bassist and drummer - may not perhaps have been everybody's first choice for a season's gripping climax.

After all, their only top-five album, It's a Shame About Ray, is now 13 years old, and Dando's somewhat louche lifestyle has long obscured his songwriting skills. No wonder Somerset House's gunwales were far from packed.

Yet, in another sense, the Lemonheads were ideal fare for a balmy evening. Dando's short, sharp pellets of pop-punk loveliness have a certain timeless resonance.

And so the ever-loveable Big Gay Heart, the shamelessly addictive It's a Shame About Ray and the singalong sole encore Rudderless rattled along under the stars. The surprisingly glamorous crowd swayed as one and few left without the sense of lives being enhanced.

In fact, unlikely as it may seem, there could be a change of fortune for the seemingly hapless Dando.

Before the highlight of his solo section, Why Do You Do This to Yourself?, which also included a thoughtful skip through Mike Nesmith's Different Drum, he announced that his far from successful solo career was 'now over for ever'.

As a result, the first Lemonheads album in a decade will be with us shortly. From it, the excellent No Backbone harkened to the pop-fuelled Lemonheads of the past, while promising a new, rockier dawn.

If the remainder of the new material is of similar quality, Dando's distinctly earthbound career might just take flight again.

In the meantime, last night served as a reminder of why he once promised so much. Stranger things - albeit not many - have happened.

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