Evan Dando – The Social, Nottingham, Thursday September 6
Fifteen years ago, as the poster boy for the so-called “slacker” generation, Lemonheads front man Evan Dando was riding the crest of a wave. While Kurt Cobain struggled with the pressures of sudden, unasked-for fame, articulating the pain of his generation, Dando’s easy-going brand of instantly likeable grunge-pop brought smiles to those same faces.
Earlier this year, Evan Dando turned forty. On the evidence of last night’s show – the second of two warm-ups for a major support slot with the Jesus and Mary Chain – he wears his age lightly, with a surprisingly healthy demeanour for someone who has indulged in the full range of rock star excesses. His lank, centre-parted hair still falls well below his shoulders. His face still bears that same dazed, doe-eyed, almost innocent expression. His audience may have settled into regular jobs and conventional lifestyles, but Evan remains the eternal slacker, making everything seem effortless and unforced.
Accompanied by regular collaborator Chris Brokaw, Dando strummed his way through a selection which spanned his whole career. Inevitably, old Lemonheads favourites such as Into Your Arms, Big Gay Heart and It’s A Shame About Ray drew the biggest cheers. But on this uncomfortably hot and sticky night, the show never quite took off.
Towards the rear, a brawl broke out. Shortly afterwards, Dando abruptly and ungraciously ended the set, and stalked off. (“I don’t like modern rock shows. I’ve played you nineteen songs. If that’s not enough, see me later.”) It was an awkward end to a pleasant but underwhelming evening.