written by Chris Familton
Evan Dando has always had a strong relationship with Australia, largely forged on the back of his songwriting relationship with Smudge’s Tom Morgan. It was with Morgan that some of Dando’s best work began to emerge in the early 90s and so it was great to see the reactivated Smudge getting The Lemonheads support slot.
Smudge ambled on and slotted back into that classic early 90s indie strum that soundtracked so many lives. Never a band to play the industry game there was still that seam of playfulness and ‘doing it for the love of it’ attitude about their performance. With a couple of new tracks thrown in alongside an obscure b-side and the hits like the heavenly Hot Potato. Smudge in 2010 is definitely a band alive and well and not trading on the nostalgia card.
The fashion for bands playing classic albums has been around for a few years now and it seemed inevitable that Dando would revisit It’s A Shame About Ray – an album widely considered his best. Operating as a tight and punchy trio, The Lemonheads hit the ground running and proceeded to tear through the album from Rockin’ Stroll to the solo closer Frank Mills, complete with rousing audience sing-a-long. The highlights were the effervescent backbeat of Alison Is Starting To Happen, the melodic sugar hit of Rudderless and the heavy hand of My Drug Buddy.
Dando fluffed a few lines and seemed to be slightly more distant than his usual slacker self but it didn’t really matter. The punters were there to hear an album that holds a special place in their hearts and marks a period of their lives. As if to show that the songs still kept coming after It’s A Shame About Ray the band played a killer selection of The Lemonheads’ classics like Great Big No, Big Gay Heart, a magnificent version of Into Your Arms, the dippy Hospital and Layin’ Up With Linda from the recent Vashons covers album.
The encore consisted of only one song featuring Dando and Smudge’s Tom Morgan and Alison Galloway nailing a guitar/drums version of The Outdoor Type. With their departure and the house lights on the crowd was left booing and wanting more – a sign of their desire to hear more classic songs rather than any dissatisfaction with the show.
this review first appeared in Drum Media