Evan Dando @ St Luke’s, Glasgow 18th May 2017
My given namesake Evan Dando was very much an embodying figure during the lank-haired, stoned, slacker period of the alternative music scene in the early 1990s. With his band The Lemonheads he was, sonically-speaking, the mellow flipside of Kurt Cobain, and was treated with disdain by half of the contemporary music press as his somewhat whimsical, sunny vibes didn’t go down so well with the angrier elements of those left disenfranchised during the economic difficulties of the time. The other half acclaimed him due to his uncanny ability to write simple, unpretentious songs with timeless melodies and a uniquely charming personality.
St. Luke’s (a converted church in Glasgow’s up-and-coming East End) is a peculiar yet ideal venue in which to host various cult indie favourites. The acoustics are naturally in place, but so are the organ pipes, stained glass windows and upper circles. The owners don’t make any attempt to hide its origins as an erstwhile place of religious devotion. However, the environment seems oddly appropriate for another kind of worship - that of some old cult favourites last witnessed in a spliff-induced haze at a music festival two decades ago.
Playing a solo acoustic set yesterday evening Dando seemed a little worse for wear, crag-faced and evidently having partaken in a certain Rizla-wrapped recreational substance. He forgot the words on the odd occasion, something he openly admitted mid-song. However, this idiosyncrasy didn’t feel out of place as his unassuming, easy charisma is of the kind that accumulates a vast reserve of goodwill in an appreciative audience. He’s basically that amiable guy you vaguely remember strumming his guitar at a festival campfire amid the blissed-out sunset haze. The melodies, taken heavily from his early 1990s Lemonheads albums It’s A Shame About Ray and Come on Feel the Lemonheads, plus his 2003 solo set Baby I’m Bored, were (the handful of hitches aside) sparklingly presented in all of their wistful yet uplifting glory. There was also a hilariously incongruous Danzig cover, leading the audience to bombard him with a number of other random requests to adapt various bands.
However, the undisputed highlight of the night was his collection of duets with Marciana Jones (from his new outfit TSP). Possessing an exceptionally resonant voice, she more than ably filled in the distaff side during Evan’s recorded collaborations with Juliana Hatfield. The feel of the gig was warm and intimate, an unassuming triumph of love for music over any potential whiff of pot smoke cynicism.