Evan Dando stopped in (briefly) at Oxford on his way to Glastonbury. Philip Allen is less than impressed.
Evan Dando of The Lemonheads, most famed for their 1992 version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs Robinson” is in the UK to make a solo appearance at this year’s Glastonbury.This Oxford date is one of three provincial towns (as well as York & Preston) he is visiting supposedly to help pay for the trip from his Los Angeles hometown. Heading into city centre towards the venue, I am on the phone trying to organise a last minute interview with the tall troubadour. It is looking more and more unlikely even though my questions have been forwarded to the manager for vetting. One can only surmise that over the years Evan has been put through the ringer by the press over the length of his hair and the girls it attracts one too many times.
When Evan makes it onstage there is no introduction or dialogue whatsoever. He sprints into the first track faster than a ferret. He isn’t in any mind to mess about with pleasantries this evening. The look in his eyes tells us that wants this over with as soon as humanly possible and with no new album to promote this purely a greatest hits set. ‘Confetti’, ‘Hanna & Gabi’ and ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’ and with his no stopping attitude, not even the hecklers can get a word in edgewise as Evan is stopping for no-one. The songs themselves sound fantastic, accompanied simply by his clean electric guitar. His caramel vocals dripping over his melodies with the expected professionalism of someone who has been in the business for well over thirty years.
The crowd are transfixed as Evan delivers an hour and half set in little over an hour. Old tunes, ‘Ride With Me’ and ‘Rudderless’ sit along side his later tracks, ‘Outdoor Type’ and ‘Big Gay Heart’ which turns out to be one of the highlights along with his choice to perform ‘Frank Mills’ a capella at the request of an audience member as his skips back on for his encore. With the final notes of ‘My Favourite T’ ringing in our ears, Evan is out of there. No time for eye contact or a smile tonight as he known for. He must be on a tight schedule,or so keen to get to the Glastonbury site almost forgot he had one more warm-up date to go. A pity really. Evan’s ability to draw the listener in and convey his stories with empathy and directness is one of his greatest strengths. Let’s just hope the next time he comes the UK, he finds his mojo as this performance lacked the friendly intimacy he is so well known and loved for.
All words by Philip Allen. More work by Philip on Louder Than War can be found here.