You never quite know what you are gonna get with an Evan Dando concert – but I’m happy to report that this was a good one – a REAL good one. Had he played a few more Lemonheads songs, it might have been the best concert I can recall seeing from a solo performer. The crowd (somewhere between 70-80 souls) absolutely got their money’s worth.
That’s part of why the show was so charming though – like a man who has seen better days maybe, pulling a great one out the bag. Of course after seeing Dando in 2015 on this very night – I can report he still has a few good years left though.
The opening act was Sara Johnston – a perfectly legit singer/songwriter who did her ½ hour set to polite applause from a half empty room- then after a 20 minute break Evan Dando comes out – looking…weird, but somehow still the same young man that I was watching on MTV 20 years ago. He opened by throwing 3 pita breads with song titles haphazardly on the stage and laying down assorted papers and notebooks and talking off mic. A blast of distortion came from an electric guitar, however he quickly abandoned that in favor of his acoustic. Apparently the papers were lyrical cues to “Hard Drive” – a song Ben Lee penned for Evan for his “Baby I’m Bored” solo album.
The next hour and a half was full of non-sequitur ramblings, banter with the crowd and a few Lemonheads songs from “It’s a Shame About Ray” and on. It seemed he had no set list however – just betting on the muse and occasional audience request to design it for him. Half the time, even myself as a hard-core fan didn’t know where the songs were from, but I did detect the usual Graham Parsons, Townes Van Zandt and Julianna Hatfield covers, along with obscure Australian punk bands and others.
I don’t think the crowd minded the set being heavy on other people’s music – Evan’s charm and magnetism was definitely on display – as well as his aged but still beautiful voice. One audience member outside remarked on how peculiar and beautiful Dando’s baritone was – how alluring the man was even though she’s never seen him before or really knew his music.
I’m not sure at which point we were getting encores though because he stopped a particularly beautiful version of “Rudderless” and wandered off stage – re-appearing a few seconds later with Sara Johnston and donning the Gibson SG he had been fiddling with earlier (with the tiniest cube amp in the world set to ‘flange’) they dueted on 4 or 5 numbers that I don’t think I’d ever heard – it was very nice to hear his voice once again adorned by someone else’s in harmony. The duo headed off – and Dando came back for more alone. This pageant continued one more time – then the lights came on.
Dando was outside smoking before we were, so he greeted fans and shook hands and obliged to be in a few photos (among them, yours truly) and even though he seemed slightly aloof or out of it – it was probably just him being excited after one of the last shows on his long European tours. There was no evidence of him touching anything harder than orange Fanta, and he really seemed like a nice guy offering his hand and introducing himself to fans – “Hi, I’m Evan”. We know dude. You’re the man.
He put on a show and made everyone feel warm and loved by his presence and even said hi to anyone that wanted to greet him. That’s entertainment on a Wednesday. Thanks again to the friendly staff at Atlas for putting on a great show! I’m Glad I didn’t go see my national football team in the rain letting Denmark win.
"He put on a show and made everyone feel warm and loved by his presence and even said hi to anyone that wanted to greet him. That’s entertainment on a Wednesday."