Review: The Lemonheads, HMV Picture House

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Evan Dando’s revisiting of The Lemonheads’ seminal 1992 album It’s A Shame About Ray (by performing it in its entirety) is a bit like getting back into bed with a former partner: comfortable and familiar, yet beset by emotional weight.

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The album made Dando a star and became the soundtrack to many sixth years’ lives. However, after ripping through the album with some speed at the Picture House last night – you could say he almost discarded it – you got the feeling the 45-year-old is no longer enamoured with retracing his steps of 20 years ago night after night.

“We’ve done the album, now we’re just going to have some fun,” he uttered with a sigh of relief, before kicking off the second-half: a battery of Lemonheads odds and sods that included heart-warming versions of Into Your Arms and The Great Big No.

Unshaven, wearing a plaid shirt and sporting long, dirty-brown hair, it seemed rather apt, however, that the first part of the show (a short acoustic set) should resemble watching a busker on Rose Street. That said, Dando is still very much a handsome man, and his voice has got deeper and sexier with age – according to two female onlookers anyway.

When the rest of his band did eventually join him, though, it was somewhat bittersweet hearing It’s A Shame About Ray presented in a more guitar-heavy fashion. Loud and fast, yet catchy and melodic – no sooner had you latched on to the sweet ’n’ sour sounds of My Drug Buddy and the title track, they were gone, like, well, an old girlfriend for example.

For the largely thirty-something audience, meanwhile, it was (if you were up the back) an opportunity to catch up with old friends. Or, if you were nearer the front, forget about work and the mortgage for a night.

Sadly, the Boston singer-songwriter wasn’t much for engaging with his fans, save the occasional “thanks”. His personal life – especially his use of crack cocaine – is well documented. Still, when it comes to acknowledging the paying public, you’d expect more in the way of repartee.

It’s a shame indeed.