Midway through his set, Evan Dando mumbles something about liking Bristol and having played at Thekla, and then announces ‘this is a song from 1987’, before bursting into ‘Clang Bang Clang‘ (or ‘Left for Dead‘, depending on whether you read and believe the sleeve to 1988’s Creator or 1990 major label debut Lovey), and it is perfect. Like a lot of people, I was drawn to the Lemonheads by 1992’s It’s a Shame About Ray but I quickly developed a fondness for the band’s 1980s hardcore period, and certainly never thought I’d see something from that era played live.
By this point, Dando has an impressive back catalogue to mine, and it is supplemented by two covers albums (the most recent, Varshons 2, was released on Fire Records this week). This is a long and generous set, interspersed with an acoustic middle section (the much -loved Frank Mills, a cover of a song from the musical Hair, gets an outing, so too does a nice version of Richard Thompson’s magical Dimming of the Day, which Dando’s voice suits perfectly). Mid-90s albums Come on Feel the Lemonheads and Car Button Cloth are especially well represented, with the latter album’s Smudge covers The Outdoor Type and Tenderfoot both being played. ‘Hard Drive‘ and ‘My Idea‘ from Dando’s 2003 solo album Baby I’m Bored also make the cut.
The set is a nice reminder that not only does Dando have a wealth of great songs of his own, he also has a great ability to make other people’s songs his own. Unfortunately, the sound quality leaves something to be desired – the lead vocals are overpoweringly loud, the instruments inexplicably low in the mix.by