Kill yr idols
Last night we went to see the Lemonheads. Well if truth be known as the line up has changed so many times over the years, everyone in the pub was there to see Evan Dando. I first saw them back in the 90s with the lineup which included Nic Dalton. The classic era around the two albums 'It's a shame about Ray' and 'Come on feel the Lemonheads'. These two cds spent many hours on my stereo and in my car.
I have seen Evan play solo once or maybe twice too. I have also heard reports of some of his tours being a shambles. Just a bit too drugged up to keep his shit together on stage. It is heartbreaking to hear reviews like this. So, after all these years it was with some excitement and a little trepidation that we grabbed tickets to the show.
Looking around the crowd, it was a bunch of 30, 40 and 50 year olds. There were many Lemonheads tshirts in the audience and you could tell everyone wanted it to be a good show. The woman next to me loudly asked a photographer if Evan 'was still as gorgeous as he used to be'. I cringed.
From the moment Evan walked on stage there was a cheer. We were treated to a short acoustic run through of a couple of songs and then he was joined on stage by his band. As they tore through tunes I hadn't listened to is maybe 10 years I was surprised at how each word tumbled from my lips. I smiled as I listened to songs I had sort of forgotten about over the years. But somehow they were all still coursing through me. Stored somewhere in the back of my psyche or perhaps coursing through my veins.
I've written before about how I always have a soundtrack to different times in my life. I felt like I was visiting my own history as I reminisced. I found myself smiling goofily up at this man who most people I know had a crush on in their 20s. I thought about the woman's question about whether Evan was still gorgeous. I guess it seemed irrelevant now. No one in the room was the same as who they were in the 90s. We had all changed, gotten older, fatter, grey haired. What did amaze me was how his voice still hit me. It's deep familiar tone and the simple and eclectic lyrics that told stories or made me think about life.
I remembered that in talking to our wedding celebrant JVG, he read a line from a Lemonheads song I had used to describe what it was like meeting Peter (he's the puzzle piece behind the couch that makes this girl complete). Those lyrics had become part of our wedding day.
Evan seemed a bit scatty on stage at one point, fretting that his two amps weren't in sync. We all held our breath hoping this wasn't the beginning of the gig falling apart. But it didn't. An electric set was followed by more acoustic joy and it is here that Evan's voice stood out. The gig finished with Evan and the crowd singing Frank Mills together.
On the way home I thought about what a large figure he was in the 90s. A square jawed, long haired, occasionally shirtless heart throb. He stood before us tonight still scruffy and long haired. No longer the gorgeous young thing, he is something else now. The troubadour who can make a whole pub sing along with him, and recite every lyric from a career spanning decades. We love him for being a survivor and for writing songs that became part of our histories. Singing stories that meant something to us even all these years later. Evan doesn't feel like the idol he was to us in our 20s. He is like an old familiar friend who no matter how long it is between catchups, can pick up where we left off. After all these years there is still a feeling of warmth and gratefulness towards him. Our relationship with him has grown and evolved as we've all gotten older. What a rare joy that is.