Monday, 29 August 2011

Evan Dando: Promise Breaker

Evan Dando
The Globe, Cardiff
July 6th 2011

Evan Dando has always been on the periphery of my musical interests. As a 1990s grunge devotee, The Lemonheads was a band name I couldn’t fail to notice, yet somehow I didn’t delve into their discography, only being familiar with their most well known material such as the 1992 album It’s A Shame About Ray and their hugely successful cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s Mrs Robinson, released from the same record. And I had never even touched upon Dando’s non-Lemonhead solo stuff. So, I eagerly anticipated the evening of July 6th 2011, when I’d get to see the Boston born musical icon in the flesh, and finally have a taste of his music in the lovely setting of The Globe original, faded theatre style furnishings still in tact pre the August closure and refurb. The promise of a special night was implicit. 

                        Pic: taken from

Audience members gathered expectantly that warm Wednesday were of a certain age, indicative of fans old enough to have followed Dando since his musical birth in the late 1980s. A hush fell as Evan appeared on stage, his head bowed, hair in his eyes, fingers fiddling with guitar leads; but this slightly uncomfortable start was relieved as he began playing. His voice was beautiful; tender with gravelly undercurrents, melancholy and mesmerising. His music did not disappoint. Sparse and simple, pared back from the band sound of his recordings, emotive and heartbreaky. But as one track ended, another began instantly. There were scarcely any words from Dando to crowd, no banter, no eye contact, no warmth. It was a bit weird. He seemed a bit sad. His set finished and he seemingly could not wait to depart the stage, returning for the obligatory encore without enthusiasm. The audience were a bit bolshy by now, being noisy and no doubt adding to his maudlin mood, but despite my usual no talking tack, I couldn’t blame them. People had paid to watch him perform and he seemed rude - although I must admit to feeling torn, as though I ought to give a consolatory cwtch rather than criticism. 

Evan Dando - depressed or dour, who knows, but his Cardiff gig ended with the same whimper it began with, and two things were proven. Sometimes promises (of a special night) are broken. And sometimes a build up is better than reality. I will buy his records, but won't watch him live again.

1 comment:

  1. I've seen The Lemonheads about six times and Evan Dando's solo project once. Sad to say, he is always horribly unengaging on stage. I still adore his music and continue to see his shows. The adoring fans usually set the mood in the venue, belting out every word to his songs. Pretty amazing his music enduces such happiness when he himself is obviously a tortured soul.