I have always enjoyed the melodic poppy sounds of Evan Dando, both solo and with his 90s alternative-labelled band The Lemonheads. But somehow all these years I have missed seeing him play live. I was quite looking forward to finally getting my chance at his solo Nashville show at the City Winery. However, a morning e-mail alert from a friend about the previous night’s show at the City Winery in Chicago provided an unexpected warning.
Despite www.setlist.fm evidence of a somewhat normal set in Cleveland a few nights earlier, my mate reported that Dando’s Chicago “performance” consisted of a scant 12 songs in 35 minutes! He even put on his coat for the encore song to assist his quick exit.
Unaware of Dando’s personal affairs, I am kind of lost for words after seeing his show here at the Winery. While musically I loved every precious minute of it, something serious is troubling Dando, and I have no real evidence on which to speculate its cause.
At about 8:50 pm, Dando abruptly walked on stage sans introduction. I would describe his looks as “rock star unkempt,” as he wore a red flannel over a tee with jeans and worn deck shoes. After a brief one-word “howdy” he was underway, singing mostly with his eyes shut.
Opening with “Hard Drive” from his lone solo record, after finishing the song, he discarded a scrap of paper from the stool beside him. Here’s a peek at what he was looking at: a cheat sheet of the sequence of nouns that would lead him through the song.
Without any other aids, Dando continued seamlessly through a non-stop sequence of 19 songs in 45 minutes. He said nothing all evening other than a “thanks” or “thank you” at the end of each song before the applause. He took no breaks whatsoever between the songs which just ran together.
His song selection didn’t disappoint (expect possibly for the absence of “It’s a Shame about Ray”). He also chose four cool cover songs, a knack of his that I have always admired.
He played no encore despite the modest pleas of the less than capacity (about 75% full) room. After the last number, he simply placed his guitar on the floor, and that was it. Evan most likely had left the building.
I hope Dando gets through whatever may be going on with his life. Nonetheless, I thank him for the great, but short, show. Maybe next time there will be some interaction. For one of the joys of a live performance is getting some sense of the artist as a person—especially in the soul-bearing setting of a solo set. Tonight, I left clueless about the man, other than the fact that something is not quite right in his world.
P.S. News is that Dando cancelled his next night’s show in Atlanta due to illness.
- Hard Drive
- The Outdoor Type
- My Idea
- Speed of the Sound of Loneliness (John Prine cover)
- I’ll Be Here in the Morning (Townes Van Zandt cover)
- My Drug Buddy
- Down About It
- Long Black Limousine (Vern Stovall cover)
- Abandoned (Lucinda Williams cover)
- All My Life
- It’s About Time
- Favorite T
- The Great Big No
- Being Around
- Into My Arms
- Frying Pan
Evan Dando—vocals and acoustic guitar