Be it musical, mental, physical, or otherwise, the hiatus is over, and the shaggy of hair, sweet of voice, shambles of life, [a]Evan Dando[/a] saga continues.
It is fitting that Dando is here, not only in Boston, where it all began, but also in the tiny Brattle Theatre, which ordinarily resigns itself to old movies. The place looks and smells like an attic-the-perfect setting for a rummage through Dando‘s past.
From the look of the crowd, he’s not the only one taking a trip through the way-back machine. Middle-aged
alterna-nostalgics are waiting anxiously, perched forward in their chairs,
ready to do some reminiscing about the days before Limp Bizkit and LFO, and
dying to show off their indie-spotting skills by yelling out to note that
they already know what the song is.
He may be changing his lifestyle, but he certainly isn’t changing his style.
There’s no DJ-accompanied hard-house-edge, no dancers, no political
sloganeering, Back-cataloguers like the softly strummed version of ‘Down
About It’ and a self-conscious ‘My Drug Buddy’ are sobering reminders of
Dando‘s triumphant ability to write good folksy pop-rock songs. Granted, the
songs are simple, short, and often formulaic. He sings about: A: Drugs
(being on them/not being on them), B: Love (having one/not having one), C:
Inanimate objects (the should-be-dumb, but actually really oddly touching
‘Stove’ and ‘My Favorite T’), or D: All of the above. The trick though, is
he peddles them all like candy-gooey centre, with the occasional crunchy
He’s a damn sly salesman too, straight-facing lines like: [I]”I
can’t go away with you on a rock-climbing weekend/What if something’s on
TV and never shown again” for the sarky ‘The Outdoor Type’.
The new songs, at least in this setting, can easily pass for old ones.
‘Arise’, about the Heavens’ Gate cult suicide, might as well be his Charles
Manson-tribute ‘Ride with Me’, and the Ben Lee-penned ‘All My Life’, which
features the support group confession, [I]”All my life I thought I needed all
the things I didn’t need at all”.
Then there is a moment, an erratic crack, a chanty a cappella rendition of
what turns out to be the Hungarian traditional ‘Gloomy Sunday’. Dando backs
off the mic and begins frantically ruffling his hair. We would hate it if we
could peg him completely anyway. Forgiveness follows quickly though, as he
kicks into Big Star‘s ‘Thirteen’ with an anecdote about playing it for Keith
Richards, but never making it to the ‘Paint It, Black‘ line on Keef‘s
song-stopping insistence that he “roll a joint”. In the end, Dando is a lot
like our beloved Keef; consistently back from the dead to remind us how much
we missed him. Welcome back.