CLOSE
« x »

EVAN DANDO @ Badlands Bar gets 7.5/10

Evan Dando @ Badlands Bar
w/ Alexander Biggs
Monday, May 29, 2017

7.5/10

Evan Dando has had a long term love affair with Australia. The original slacker fought off writers block to pen his breakthrough album It’s A Shame About Ray with a little help from his friends Down Under (Tom Morgan from Smudge being the main conspirator). The current tour is a celebration of the re-release of his debut solo album Baby, I’m Bored on vinyl.

Alexander Biggs

Joining Dando on the brief national tour was Melbourne solo artist Alexander Biggs. The coy bedroom folk of Biggs is in contrast to his success, having recently signed a deal with Sony Music. Biggs awkward stage manner and baggy black jumper was backed up by his pensive guitar playing and soft voice. The quiet performance had songs about tidal waves and panic attacks as Biggs played a short set with his songs of minor victories, but more often epic failures.

Perth hasn’t always been a happy hunting ground for Evan Dando, with shows over two decades that have ranged from the sublime to the ridiculous and everything in between. He’s played acoustic shows with pyrotechnics, and heavy distortion, energetic festival sets with his band the Lemonheads and the odd show where he has arrived late without really ‘turning up’. Tonight’s performance would showcase the many sides of the enigmatic singer.

It was a typical no fuss entrance as Dando set a book on top of a stool for him to refer to, before kicking things off with a Lemonheads staple for many years, the country tinged Being Around. The soothing warmth of Dando’s voice was ever present and is a gift that he hasn’t lost any of his mellifluous tone after the decades of living the lifestyle. A long time fan of Gram Parsons, Streets Of Baltimore was strummed early with an unannounced Marciana Jones wandering onto the stage to add some backing vocal, before leaving as quickly as she arrived.

Although now in the elder statesman category at fifty, Dando has lost none of his good looks without quite being in Benjamin Button territory. His dishevelled hair often covered his face whilst an oversized suit jacket still oozed casual charm. The early part of the set was a run through of well known tunes from his catalogue with a tip of the hat to his Australian friends. The Ben Lee written Hard Drive was an early highlight before covering the tune that introduced Lee to audiences in the first place – his ode to Dando – I Wish I Was Him.

Frying Pan turned back the clock to a time when Dando was invited on to every tribute album and compilation going around. There is a fair argument to say that Dando is at his best when he is singing songs written by Tom Morgan and The Outdoor Type and My Idea would certainly give credence to this theory. Dando would say a sentence between songs at best, but was always cordial and entertaining. At the request of the front row, he played Stove which is the perfect tune from the period where The Lemonheads were in the hybrid state between punk rockers and indie pop stars.

Appearing in a jovial mood, Dando played most of the tunes that people would have been hoping to hear. Some would get a full airing and others would be played until Dando decided to speed them up to get to the end or discard them early. Different Drum was playful and ended with a munted guitar solo, Down About It sped up and Hospital aborted before the vocals even started.

The show became more lacklustre and loose after the first ninety with Dando throwing in covers by New York Dolls, Charles Manson, a Dinosaur Jr medley, The Jayhawks and Melody Williamson’s There’s No Country Here with varying levels of success. By the time that Dando invited Jones back on stage for them to work through Splinters by their new band The Sandwich Police, things were starting to go off the rails.

A quick “cigarette break” was called for and then Dando and Jones returned for a ramshackle set that had highlights like Into Your Arms and Drug Buddy, but too often saw them adjusting volumes and tones on guitar as they got in each others way during little known Sandwich Police numbers and throwaway moments like 58 Second Song which they joked was “about a minute”. The things that make Dando so appealing are also his Achilles Heal and as the show dissolved into loosely organised chaos, the point was driven home.

The show was a tale of two halves, but like an indulgent girl with a curl, when Dando was good he was very, very good …

CHRIS HAVERCROFT

Photos by Linda Dunjey Photography

 

 

« x »