Evan Dando / The Pieces - Manchester Academy 2 - 9.5.03

It's funny how life can suddenly take a Sliding Doors style twist of fate. There I was next door at the Contact Theatre browsing round a new exhibition by performance artist and cult celebrity The Divine David hoping in vein to grab an interview with the reclusive figure I'd assured would be there. After twiddling my fingers and thumbs for the best part of 30 minutes I leave in a state of depression that I would actually have to witness w*nk aussie rockers You Am I instead...and there I see that in fact Pieces are Evan's openers for the night and I happen to stumble upon my favourite new American band by sheer chance. They don't so much slap you round the face, as give it a gentle tickle and drag you in slowly with the sort of tunes which were meant to complement the ex-Lemonheads frontman. Their debut album is the sort of summer bliss only the Blondes can muster so buy this album now on import and own a piece of history.

The Lemonheads were one of those bands. The bands that you got into during your transition from pop pap to those dark years in the indie ghetto where unless it's on 7" coloured vinyl and available to less than 500 copies you wouldn't buy it. The Lemonheads, James and the Wonderstuff aided my conversion to guitars and every single one has split in favour of the ill-fated solo careers. Dando is different for the plain reason he always was the Lemonheads and as Morrissey would say - the other members were simply spare parts. With his debut solo album "Baby I'm Bored", at times a collection of demos let out into the public domain and the work of genius at others, Evan declared he was ashamed of his previous albums and this was the only record he was truly happy with. Strange then that tonight he chose to air a choice selection of Lemonheads tracks including "The Great Big No", "Feel So Down About It", "It's A Shame About Ray", "Big Gay Heart" and "Ship Without A Rudder" with his new band before encoring acoustically with "Being Around" and "Into Your Arms".

It would all be a great nostalgic trip through our childhood if it weren't for the fact that his new material excels live and while the obvious choices such as "The Same Thing" and "All My Life" were always going to he still manages to keep our attention during the more intimate moments. It seems that Evan Dando is well and truly back and while this tour for most people was an exercise in curiosity he proved that he's still got what it takes.

Alex McCann

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