HERE COMES THE SUN
On Thanksgiving Eve, the dearly devoted of mid-nineties alt-pop trundled into the Troubadour to spend a few booze-soaked hours with the latest incarnation of Evan Dando’s the Lemonheads. Given a rotating door policy that endlessly shuffled the band’s rhythm section since its incarnation 20 years ago, you might wonder why the new release (self-titled on Vagrant) deserves any more attention than Dando’s 2003 solo effort Baby I’m Bored.
From the opening track, however, it is clear that Dando is trying his darndest to recreate the breezy rock of the Lemonheads’ heyday. The album is so near in tone and quality to the band’s breakthrough records It’s a Shame About Ray and Come On Feel that the night’s set flowed from old tunes to new so seamlessly, even staunch fans were probably hard-pressed to separate the 2006 tracks from the early-mid nineties fare.
And there was no shortage of those very fans.
Evan Dando has fans that believe they are his friends. And it’s easy to see why. Taking the stage in a heavy black pea coat and delivering his lyrics from behind long uneven bangs, Dando sings with the same warmth and richness as his studio efforts suggest, and rarely misses a note. He strums his guitar with deceptive nonchalance, twists tiny melodies into his chords.
With deliberate, cool-hand drumming and cheery backup vocals, the Lemonheads rolled from one song to the next with little breathing room in between. Before the encore, Dando strapped on an acoustic and played a charming if somewhat lengthy and loosely constructed medley of favorites.
Songs from the new album were so indistinguishable from the back catalogue that at one point a fan requested “Rudderless” (from It’s a Shame), a piece that had been played two or three songs earlier. Even still, the audience was treated with what they came for. The hour and a half set worked in favorites from the radio single “In Your Arms” to album tracks such as “The Great Big No” and “My Drug Buddy”.
Still, it’s hard to tell if Dando’s heart is in it, and the Lemonheads rely heavily on his heart. On this particular night, fans couldn’t tell the difference, and likely didn’t care. The set was loud, fun, and—most importantly—it delivered on its promise to transport the audience to 1995… even if it was supporting an album made a decade later.