Wednesday, 23 December 2009

673 THE LEMONHEADS, Eugene Kelly, London Shepherd's Bush Empire, Thursday 15 September 2005

Continuing my recent early 90's US alt-rock revisitation (Pixies, Posies, Bob Mould playing Sugar songs), here's the Lemonheads doing all of "It's A Shame About Ray", their 1992 classic! Rachel and I headed down at 6-ish for this eagerly-awaited gig, part of ATP's "Don't Look Back" series of 90's artistes playing their best work, start to finish. Not an onerous task for Evan Dando's reformed Lemonheads, given that "It's A Shame About Ray" clocked in at a brisk 29 minutes!

Parked up in the Bush at 1/4 to 8 despite an above-average number of dickheads on the road, and met Tim and crew as he parked up. Took good spots in the venue (down the front, stage left) just before support Eugene Kelly came on at 8. I was happy that Kelly was playing, having missed his Dinosaur Jr. support earlier this year, and initially I enjoyed his laid-back, harmonious West Coast tinged pop, with shades of Teenage Fanclub, as you'd expect from this influential Scottish troubadour. An acoustic "Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam", covered by Nirvana back in the day, was a highlight, but the set was overlong and started to drag. Still, plenty to show there's life in the old dog yet, despite him looking like a grey-haired bank manager these days!

The place filled up rapidly as the witching hour approached, and we noticed Kev from Seafood making his way through the crowd, saying hi to him in the process. The lights dimmed at 9.30, and Evan Dando led the Lemonheads on; not the classic "Ray" line-up, but rather a new 3-piece incarnation with hired gunslingers Bill Stevenson on drums, and our Boston buddy Josh Lattanzi on bass, backing Dando up. Nevertheless, they were superb - by the pogo-stick bounce of the second number "Confetti" I was in the mosh, singing along to these familiar, easy melodies and spaced out lyrics. Dando's genius is most evident on "It's A Shame About Ray", its perfect marriage of post-grunge US college rock and country, producing naggingly familiar melodies to form the basis for his rich baritone. And Dando, slim, healthy looking and content, was on top form tonight and clearly enjoying himself. Meanwhile, I pogoed on in the mosh, catching Josh's eye midway through "My Drug Buddy", a languid "hey" of recognition illuminating his features.

"Ray" whipped by in double-quick time, climaxing in a solo "Frank Mills", from Evan, conducting the sing-along moshpit. A few other solo acoustic numbers - a brilliant "Outdoor Type" and a messy but welcome "Different Drum" - before the band rejoined for a romp through "Hospital" and a surprisingly good "If I Could Talk I'd Tell You". Then Bill and Josh cleared off and Evan announced he was doing one more number; "any requests?" My voice was the loudest as I called for "Stove", and Evan looked directly at me before clarifying. ""Stove"? Uh, okay..." Needless to say, it was superb, even stripped back from the full band oomph. A well-deserved encore later, a strident, vibrant and punchy "Down About It" called an end to proceedings, after a brilliant hour in the company of a true superstar and his henchmen.

Hung out afterwards with Kevin Seafood, then tried to get a message backstage to Josh, but in vain, as we eventually tired and headed off, home for 1 after a superb night!

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