Last time I went to Somerset House I spent most of the time falling on my butt on a vast lake of ice. Fast forward a few months and the cold has been replaced by a heat wave, hundreds of people sprawled on the ground, soaking up the last of a hot Sunday’s sunshine, and in some cases recovering from the night before…
Australia’s Sleepy Jackson cruise onto stage as support, their brand of spaced out, zorbic rock the perfect entrée for The Lemonheads. In Luke Steele the band have a charismatic and notoriously tricky frontman (the list of ex band members is ever growing), who charms the crowd, and keeps our attention for the entire set. At time they sounds like The Arcade Fire, at times Flaming Lips, it’s a colourful, bright set, slipping into instrumentals and sudden flickers of harder rock. With their second album ‘Personality‘ set to drop, you get the impression these guys are only just getting up to full power, watch this space.
Bang on time Evan Dando comes loping out onto the stage, a wry grin plastered on his face, a stripey top on his beanpole frame and his trademark blonde hair unfairly shiney as ever. Despite the fact their best known album ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’ is almost 13 years old now, there’s a good turn out for Dando, and the words are still engrained in us. ‘Ruddlerless‘ and ‘Big Gay Heart’ are sung back word perfect, ‘Confetti‘ touches home and ‘Drug Buddy’ is bittersweet. To be standing in such a stunning setting, under the stars, watching Dando seduce the audience with his boyish charm, is a treat indeed. We’re further spoilt with a solo section, Dando’s persuasive vocals seeing us through ‘The Outdoor Type’, ‘Why Do You Do It to Yourself’, ‘Being Around’ and Mike Nesbitt’s ‘Different Drum’. He even has the nerve do drop a Misfits cover of “Skulls“!
Having signed with Vagrant, The Lemonheads have finished recording their first album since 1996 at Allaire Studios, NY, and we’re presented with a new track from the forthcoming album – ‘No Backbone’, it’s rockier, upbeat but still retains that wistful charm we’ve grown to love.
It’s a new start for Dando, he appears to have conquered his demons and come back stronger than ever.
As the balmy summer evening comes to an end, he hands out what he claims is his work permit to the front row, and jumps on his guitar which doesn’t play the game ‘ I thought it’d make a cool sound!’ he shrugs bashfully.”What a special evening…although we’ll be over here so many times in the next few months, and not one of you will come to see us.” Judging from the crowd’s reaction tonight, he underestimates just how loyal his fans are. Modest as ever, he sidles off stage – here’s hoping he returns very soon indeed.
Evan Dando’s official website www.evandando.com