Evan Dando live at Whelans, Dublin
14th February 2001
Review by Robert Crosbie
Last night I went to see Evan Dando in Whelan's in Dublin. I arrived early and got a good spot on the balcony, looking down on the stage. It didn't take too long before Ben Kweller stormed onstage and launched into a cover of "Ice Ice Baby", which was quite funny. He was a very energetic perfomer, and his songs sounded pretty good; if not a bit "samey". Although, with an acoustic set, what can you expect. The best song was one called "Walk On Me". Still, he seemed a nice guy and urged everyone to buy his CDs. I saw him downstairs later on setting up his little stall with CDs and T-Shirts!
Then Ben Lee shambled on; he didn't really go down as well as Kweller, as Lee's songs were very quiet and unannounced. He did get a bit more relaxed towards the end; he tried to get two girls to "make out" onstage while he played (it was Valentines Day!). He also played an odd cover of Kylie Minogue's "Confide In Me". I think the problem was that the crowd were so hyped up after the first Ben that the second Ben just brought them down again.
It wasn't long before the houselights went down and Evan came onstage, to a huge cheer (the venue was sold out). However, it was a bit of an anti-climax as he spent around 5 minutes sorting out his pedals and so on! He did apologise for it though, but soon was ready and started with "Shame About Ray". He flew through about 5 songs without a pause before wishing us all a happy Valentines day. I have to admit, he looked great. His hair was shoulder length, and he was wearing a black T-shirt and jeans (he played "Favourite T"!). He was as slim as he was in the "Ray" days, and seemed totally together. I noticed too that he was wearing a wedding ring. At first he stood quite still, but mid way through he started to bop about and "dance" around the stage (that means swinging his legs around!).
He played mostly old songs, from "Ray" ("Shame", "Rudderless", "Hannah", "Turnpike", "Mills", "Drug Buddy", "Confetti"), "Feel" ("Great Big No", "Into Your Arms", "Paid To Smile", "Being Around", "Favourite T") and "Cloth" ("Hospital", "If I Could Talk", "Outdoor"), plus the usual covers "Frying Pan" and "Honky Tonk Women". He also played "Ride With Me", and a new song "The One Thing You Thought Hard About Is The One Thing I Can't Live Without". He explained he wasn't playing too many new songs as he wanted to record them first.
He was enjoying the show, you could tell. Especially when the crowd would fill in the backing vocals, or "whistle" the solos (I saw him do that trick in '97), a smile would break out on his face and he look up and around the audience. He also enjoyed stamping on his distortion pedals every now and again to blast us out of it. I think he needs a new band!
The best part of the gig was the encore - he brought out Ben Kweller and harmonised on a beautiful song Ben had written (didn't catch the name). The two sang into the same mic, and played guitars. Then Ben Lee came out and they all sang "All My Life", a song Lee wrote for Evan. That was good too, however Lee stood too far from the mic so we couldn't hear his harmonies. But it was a really fun, enjoyable moment.
Then Dando came back, sang "Frank Mills", and that was it. The crowd still wanted more, so he had to come back up and say "enough!". Then he knocked back two shots (of Tequila?) and was gone.
All in all, a great gig; relaxed, fun, musically perfect, Dando on the top of his form once again. "All My Life" is the obvious single choice, could be a hit. What I got from this gig is that Evan Dando is back, enjoying performing, and enjoying his little "travelling roadshow" around the world. Can't wait for the album.