The Lemonheads – The Academy – Live Review – 06/02/19 by Killian Laher
The Lemonheads returned to kick off their European tour in the Academy ahead of the release of another covers album this Friday. On the face of it there wasn’t much reason that Evan Dando and co would draw a crowd other than many in the audience taking a large leap of faith.
Support came from up and coming Dublin band Silverbacks who played a good set of messy, short rockers. Frontman Daniel O’Kelly ‘spoke-sang’ the vocals in an almost Stephen Malkmus style on songs like Dirty Money and Dunkirk, while bass player Emma Hanlon took the mic for Up The Nurses. They gathered energy as the set went on and the venue filled up, with O’Kelly roaring out the lyrics of Last Orders.
So what about the Lemonheads? Looking at Evan Dando this could have been any year in the last 20, he seems not to have aged since the mid nineties. Joined by Chris Brokaw on lead guitar plus a rhythm section, the band powered through muscular versions of Hospital, Down About It and a towering The Great Big No, heavy on guitar riffs. At times Dando’s voice struggled to be heard amongst the messy din. As the night progressed, the band seemed to run out of steam not long after It’s A Shame About Ray. Throwing in a few covers, Nick Cave’s Straight To You proved that Dando has no real business singing Nick Cave, though The Bee Gees’ To Love Somebody got a better reception.
Giving the rest of the band a break, Dando and Brokaw performed a meandering acoustic set taking in The Outdoor Type, Hard Drive (from his solo album), Bit Part and Alison’s Starting To Happen, reworked as Katherine’s Starting To Hepburn for some reason. Throughout, Dando looked like he wasn’t quite sure where he was or how he got there, as if he couldn’t quite figure out how he made it on stage. Singing The Eagles’ Take It Easy in an exaggerated drawl sounded almost like a piss-take, while on the other hand a muddy version of My Drug Buddy and If I Could Talk I’d Tell You had their moments. They finished by powering through rocked up versions of Into Your Arms and Dawn Can’t Decide and then they were gone, leaving the audience confused and unsure. While the gig had its moments, it appeared Evan Dando and the band were a little under-rehearsed, almost making it up as they went along. Time to write some new songs Evan?