The Lemonheads stopped by Toronto last week to play an almost capacity crowd at Lee’s Palace. While this is the first Lemonheads tour in about 10 years, lead singer Evan Dando was in town at The Horseshoe last February, playing a solo show, which turned out to be a less than stellar set where he walked off because “people were talking in the back.” Seriously. It’s more likely that he quit due to being (almost certainly) completely out of it, becoming less and less coherent as the show went on. So when it was announced that The Lemonheads were coming to town, many speculated about how the show would go — would it be a trainwreck or would it be worth going to?
Almost immediately after Dando arrived on stage with his touring band (not the same members that helped record the latest album), you could tell there was something different about him. Something was lighter. He seemed happy and healthier looking, and when he started into ‘Hannah & Gabi’, it was obvious that this wasn’t the same Evan as earlier in the year. He was much more focused and lucid, that’s for certain. But would he stay that way as the evening progressed?
As it turns out, yes. The band put on a solid show, with much of it coming from their latest self-titled album. Not surprisingly, the biggest cheers and sing-a-longs of the night came during ‘My Drug Buddy’ and a wonderfully nostalgic solo acoustic version of ‘Into Your Arms’. It was endearing to see the acoustic guitar adorned with many photos of loved ones, and it looked as though a few more photos had been added recently. It reminds you of cozying up around the campfire and singing the classic campfire songs with your best friends.
While everyone always wants to see a car crash in action, in the end you still root for the victim and hope to see them come out of the wreck intact. Watching this show was far more uplifting than a few months back, and while Dando didn’t connect with the audience very much, he did appear to be “alive” and well and really wanting to be there. Let’s just hope that he can continue to play shows like this one.
Photos: Carrie Musgrave