By DAN MACINTOSH
Evan Dando, under the name The Lemonheads, performed a fully satisfying concert the other night at The Teragram Ballroom filling it with (mostly) all your favorite band songs, as well as a few noteworthy cover selections. Had Dando achieved popularity in today’s social media-saturated age, he and his issues with drugs would have been the subject of perhaps career-crippling gossip fodder to no end.
Even back then, though, during the more underground alternative/college rock period of the 1990s, the man’s struggles were well known among in-the-know rock fans. It was a little odd to see alternative rock’s former ‘hot guy’ looking much older. Everyone gets older, though, even the young people from Rolling Stone Magazine’s Hot List. At times, especially when Dando hunched down to take a guitar solo dressed in his loose-fitting flannel shirt, he looked much more like elder statesman Neil Young, than a ’90s poster boy.
The band under the name The Lemonheads included a few members (and all three at one point) of opener The Restless Age. These players are strong musicians and singers and provided sturdy backup for Dando. A few of Dando’s covers this night were drawn from his new Varshons 2 all-covers album, including a memorable take on Nick Cave’s powerful “Straight To You.” When he sang Victoria Williams’ “Frying Pan,” it hit with a pang of pain because Williams is no longer the omnipresent presence on the Los Angeles scene she once was. Toward the end of the show, Dando sang a smattering of songs accompanied only by his electric guitar. This section included an impressive take on Elvis Costello’s wordy “Man Out of Time.”
“The Outdoor Type,” which Dando also played solo, was another cover. However, it’s most associated with The Lemonheads. It features a funny, but true lyric, about those of us that just weren’t born to go camping. It was written before the advent of the term ‘glamping,’ which is the word that best describes we un-campers. Of The Lemonheads songs, Dando did sing “It’s a Shame About Ray,” but didn’t perform “Mrs. Robinson” (actually, another cover). He also sang “The Great Big No” and “My Drug Buddy” toward evening’s end. By the looks of the audience, singing along joyfully, these songs were the reason many came out.
Now, with the clear signs of age on his face, it is easier to take Dando more seriously as an artist. He was respected back during The Lemonheads’ heyday, it’s true, but his pinup quality good looks received about as much editorial copy as his physical qualities back in the day. Tonight’s show was seriously good, all the way around.
The Restless Age, a New York trio, opened the show with an impressive set that highlighted the players instrumental skills and spot-on vocal harmonies. With the band’s impressive set, it’s not difficult to understand why Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen chose these three as the backing band for his 2017 national tour.