You’d be forgiven for confusing Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando with your average hobo. Mangled jeans and lank, greasy hair don’t exactly scream ‘rich and famous’, and his chipped Gibson SG is well past its sell-by date. His bandmates are just as uninspiring: bassist Vess Ruhtenburg is equally scruffy, while chubby, bespectacled Devon Ashely looks far too cheerful to be the drummer in a cult indie band.
But appearances can be deceptive, as the Lemonheads rocked out like few bands know how at The Academy earlier this month. The first half of the set featured classics like ‘It’s A Shame About Ray’ and ‘My Drug Buddy’, with a few newer tracks such as ‘Pittsburgh’ thrown in for good measure. Occasionally doing the showbiz thing, Dando chatted to the crowd in his laconic Boston drawl, but mostly they ploughed ahead, stopping just long enough for Dando to consult the setlist taped to the floor and shout the name of the next song to the others. The show was more akin to a casual jam session than a concert – probably why everyone seemed to have such a good time.
The second half saw Dando left on stage with nothing but a battered semi-acoustic to keep him company. He performed popular numbers like ‘The Outdoor Type’ and ‘Being Around’, and made hardcore fans happy by including B-sides and tracks from the Lemonhead’s debut album, Hate Your Friends, released all of 22 years ago. It was tough to glimpse his face behind the curtain of hair, but despite being on the road since 1986, Dando didn’t at all seem bored – in fact, he seemed to be enjoying himself, albeit in an extremely spaced-out way. His bandmates rejoined him for the closing numbers and even squeezed in an encore, which, judging by the roadies’ faces, wasn’t part of the plan.
The Lemonheads vast catalogue of acoustic ballads, punk tunes and covers made this gig any music nerd’s dream, but it was definitely the atmosphere of happy-stoner cheer that made this blast from the past seem so lemony-fresh.