“You and I travel to the beat of a different drum,” the opening line of the Michael Nesmith-penned “Different Drum” goes. And so can be said for Evan Dando, the creative force behind The Lemonheads. From the punk leanings of The Lemonheads’ Hate Your Friends to the pop masterpieces on It’s a Shame About Ray and Car Button Cloth, Dando’s musical trajectory has never been beholden to anything other than Dando himself.
And the music holds up now better than ever. Just around the corner from now, The Lemonheads’ seminal album, It’s a Shame About Ray, has its 30th anniversary. And it’s no wonder that you can drop the needle on either side and find a hook-laden charmer. Also in 2022 is the publication of Dando’s memoir, Rumors of My Demise, to be published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Now, I’ve seen The Lemonheads a few times over the years, the last time being at the 9:30 Club a few years back (read our Parklife review of that performance), but each time has been different and Friday night at the Baltimore Soundstage after great sets by Reagan Cats and Heyrocco, Evan Dando along with Mikey Jones of Swervedriver fame on drums and Farley Glavin on bass took the stage and immediately went from a cacophonous feedback drenched punch into “It’s About Time ” and then right into “Hospital” without a breath in between.
In his world-weary baritone, Evan Dando took a moment in between songs to mention how great it was to be back in Baltimore on Nov. 26. The last time I recall seeing him was a marathon 40-plus songs with just Dando and an old archtop guitar at the Metro Gallery. Even with the confines of the full-band set, The Lemonheads ended up playing over 30 songs. From a generous post-Thanksgiving portion of It’s a Shame About Ray, Come On Feel, and Car Button Cloth and even some Lovey. Add to that several fantastic covers, it was a recipe for some great rock ‘n’ roll.
One of the highlights of the evening was just before the end of the first proper set, The Lemonheads along with members of Heyrocco played a fun version of “Old Man Blank” from the Bevis Frond.
Evan Dando has a great voice that is perfect for those old Country tunes that were tucked away in the set list, whether it be John Prine’s “Sound of the Speed of Loneliness” or Lucina Williams’ “Abandoned” — which included a blistering solo by Dando. But I think it’s even more apparent when it’s just Evan Dando himself with either an acoustic or electric guitar, as he came out after the set to play an entire set, starting with “Hard Drive” from his solo album, Baby I’m Bored. I’ve always thought this song just sung with a guitar sans any other instrumentation was the best way to hear Hard Drive. And he ended his, well, second set with the Victoria Williams tune, “Frying Pan,” before leaving the stage only to return with the band to play the first encore of “The Turnpike Down” and “Confetti.”
Watch Evan Dando perform “The Turnpike Down” live at The Annandale Hotel in 2009 on YouTube:
But that wasn’t all! Evan, came back out to the stage, grabbed an acoustic guitar and ended the evening with the song “Frank Mills” from the musical, Hair — stepping away from the mic near the end and walking up to the lip of the stage to sing to the crowd the last lines, “I would gratefully appreciate if you see him tell him / I’m in the park with my girlfriend and please / Tell him Angela and I don’t want the two dollars back just him.” The perfect end to a fantastic set.
The Lemonheads just finished up their tour with the last stop in Boston on Nov. 27.
The set list included:
It’s About Time
My Drug Buddy
Great Big No
Dawn Can’t Decide
Left for Dead
Big Gay Heart
Don’t Tell Yourself
It Looks Like You (E Dando)
It’s a Shame About Ray
If I Could Talk I’d Tell You
Down About It
Sound of the Speed of Loneliness (John Prine)
Hannah & Gabi
Different Drum (Michael Nesmith)
Abandoned (Lucinda Williams)
Old Man Blank (Bevis Frond)
Hard Drive (E Dando)
The Outdoor Type (Smudge)
Into Your Arms
Frying Pan (Victoria Williams)
The Turnpike Down