From a young man on the way up, last time out, to someone who on tonight's evidence might just pass him on the way down. Despite evidence to the contrary, I'm always prepared to give Evan a lot of rope, but after tonight I come to bury Caesar, not praise him.
Rach passed on this one, so I got myself a ticket, trundling down in just over an hour and parking right outside the venue. Surveyed the odd scene before meeting Cardiff-domiciled Michelle and Ben. The gig venue, with a wide aspect, rounded table arrangements and waist-high barriers, reminded me of Swindon's old Brunel Rooms! Stayed in the bar after checking out a bit of the Icarus Line, who with their Doors-ish rhythm and sleaze, came across like a clumsy, less competent version of the Datsuns!
The "Lemonheads" took the stage at 9, Evan once again backed, as at the recent Bristol gig, by the 2 guys from the Pieces. Initially all seemed well; opener "Great Big No" solicited the usual singalong "whoa-oh"s from the 1/2 full crowd, and an early "My Drug Buddy" was touching and sweet. However, Evan started to complain about monitor feedback, and it took longer than he would have liked to, to resolve it. A couple of thrashy numbers, "Down About It" and "Pittsburgh", threatened to kick-start the show, but after a tuneful "Hannah And Gabi", the gig took a turn for the worse. Poor sound, careless thrashy playing from both Evan and his less than competent hired hands, and most unfavourably some off-key, atonal droning from this normally excellent (usually despite all odds!) vocalist.
A fine "Stove" briefly threatened to turn things around, but "Shame About Ray", usually the zenith of their easy, countrified post-grunge singalong pop, sounded disappointingly discordant and dirgelike. "Alison's Starting To Happen" featured some drunk punk invading the stage, then the disturbing sight of Evan pulling the bouncers off him so this guy could take the mic! Amazingly, Evan let him sing half of it, then said he didn't like, "to see someone beaten up for no reason." Evan, this dickhead INVADED THE STAGE! That's bloody reason enough, and I for one didn't pay to hear some random drunken punter!
That was it, the show was in a mire not even the usual acoustic interlude ("Different Drum" being the highlight - at least he got his shit together for that) and an excellent final "Rudderless" could save. I love the guy and I hate writing this, but I thought he'd recently rediscovered his appetite for playing. This was far from evident on tonight's show - this was Evan Dando really not caring, which we all agreed on as I left to hit the road, home before midnight. I hope to God that this was a one-off...