Wednesday, 9 June 2010

464 EVAN DANDO, Chris Brokaw and Thalia Zedek, The Brattle Theater, Cambridge, MA USA, Wednesday 18 October 2000

Gig 2 of tonight after Seafood's US debut, and fun though hanging backstage with your favourite UK band undoubtedly is, there comes a time to depart. Or decamp, as it were, as Seafood had managed to wangle guest-list slots for the Evan Dando show, and they hit the Brattle too, a little after Rachel and myself. I believe they avoided having to stand in the rain, which Rach and I had to do, which does our colds no good at all. But hey, at least we get good seats - yup, this is another seated venue!

Following a painfully long and fiddly soundcheck, the opening act gets under way. The un-named 4-piece features Chris Brokaw and Thalia Zedek of early 90's Boston saddo-rockers Come, plus a couple of Kens as back-up. Thalia takes vocal chores and delivers a mournful, moody set of blues-tinged numbers, which promise to be smoky and torch-like but in my shivery, cold-ridden state come off as leaden and painfully dull. Rachel has the right idea - she falls asleep during each number, waking briefly at the end to clap politely then promptly nod back off again! A neat trick, which even former gig pal Clive at his somnambulant best couldn't have pulled off!

In the interval I get to chatting with the chap sat next to me, who has a set-list from tonight's first show (this also being the second of a double-header for Evan!) which I beckon Kevin and David Seafood to come over and check out. The guy turns out to be Geoff Van Duyne, an old buddy of Steve Hurley's. Small world. He gives me a copy of his band Army Of Jasons' CD, which subsequently turns out to be a damn fine listen. Thanks Geoff. We also get to introduce Kev to a stunned John Dragonetti and girlfriend Blake; stunned because a) Rach and I are in town, and b) Kev's actually heard of Jack Drag!

Places again for the emergence of Evan at 11. It's been a heck of a long lay-off (Reading Festival 1997) and with Evan's renowned appetite for, erm, "recreational pharmaceuticals", I wondered what shape he'd be in, particularly in the "naked artist" format of a solo acoustic show. I needn't have worried, however, as tonight Evan is in rude health and delivers an utterly glorious and majestic show. Lifting from the entire spectrum of the Lemonheads' quality recorded canon of work (yup, even the punk rock roots, "Mallo Cup", "Hate Your Friends" and "I Am A Rabbit" being delivered late-on with the requisite vim and vigour), Evan, stripped bare musically but for an acoustic guitar, is clear as a bell, mesmeric and magnificent. The songs, also stripped bare, reveal themselves to be simple yet stunningly effective pop gems in full bloom, particularly "Turnpike Down", "Shame About Ray" and the brilliant "Stove". Evan concentrates on the vocals, leaving audience control and communication to a single shrug or startlingly effective raised eyebrow. And the voice is incredible - pitch-perfect and superb irrespective of whether interpreting silliness (an odd number about "homos") or complex blues numbers, acapella. Everything is delivered with effortless genius.

The encore brings on Ben Kweller, the former Radish vocalist and still-young (19?) musical prodigy. Ben and Evan dovetail in superbly together, with a fine "Hospital" and some more blues being played with aplomb. Overall, though, the 1 hour 40 minute performance utterly flies by, and I leave convinced I'd witnessed a musical resurrection. Tonight belongs to Evan Dando! (Well, Evan and the cab driver who picks us up after less than a minute in the teeming Harvard rain afterwards!).

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