FOR THE INQUIRER BY JONATHAN VALANIA Hard to say exactly which bad sign indicated that the woozy Evan Dando train wreck was still hitting the wall of sober expectations. Maybe it was the marked thinning of the sold-out crowd by mid-show. Maybe it was Dando’s spontaneously electing to cover Suzanne Vega’s “Luka,” when clearly neither he nor his bandmates knew the chords or lyrics.
Maybe it was his lying on his back to sing another song while a roadie held the mike above him, only to abort the song halfway with the words, “We already played that song.” Maybe it was when an audience member was pulled up to sing his biggest song – but knew neither how to sing nor the words to Paul Simon’s “Mrs. Robinson.”
Or maybe it was the singer’s quasi-coherent jabbering between songs. “What to play next? It’s Saturday night,” he said, from the stage Thursday night at the North Star Bar.
Not all of it was that painful. Dando gems such as “It’s a Shame About Ray,” “Into Your Arms,” and an acoustic cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Some Kinda Love” packed the old Evan charm that filled the venue in the first place – an early-bird ’90s nostalgia for a man and a band that led a generation of young punks out of the wilderness of noise and confrontation with cuddly, jangly pop-rock, ocean-blue eyes, and blond bangs. They all sang along with every word of “My Drug Buddy,” as if to say they loved Evan Dando more than he ever did.
Dando and his reconstituted Lemonheads are touring in support of the eponymous The Lemonheads, a for-completists-only barrel-scraper that, if nothing else, provides an excuse to fire up the party bus to a man who long ago ran out of excuses.
Perhaps the most succinct review of Dando’s performance came from the three young ladies who stormed out before the encore, then wrote “you suck” on a feminine hygiene product and stuck it on the side of the fading alterna-hunk’s tour bus.