On October 8grunge stalwarts, The Lemonheads, came to Manchester to celebrate 30 years of their 1992 album It’s a Shame About Ray. The O2 Ritz encapsulated the spirit of 1992 again, for a time at least.
Evan Dando took to the stage by himself initially, leaving the band behind. Interestingly, planting himself stage right, shirking off the centre. He sang through some acoustic classics, and some more unexpected songs like ‘Skulls’ by Misfits with its infamous and disturbing lyrics. Where, in London, he had sung ‘Into Your Arms’ with the Queen of Grunge herself, Courtney Love, here, this sadly did not make the Manchester setlist. However, one thing that has to be said, is that Dando, certainly can still sing. His voice sounded just as strong as it was on his early records.
Eventually, Dando called out the rest of the band, who each took up their positions on stage, whilst he, ever the grunge artist, remained stage right. The band flew into songs from It’s a Shame About Ray sweeping their crowd up into the nostalgia. Dressed in his jumper and jeans, with hair across his face, Dando certainly looked the part of a grunge frontman, not wasting words between songs.
The highlight was ‘It’s a Shame About Ray’, the album’s title track; the crowd sang along to every word. The excitement in the room was palpable. As the band worked through more of the album, and other songs, with a set-list that promised to be 35 songs long, the excitement remained. Dando also worked in songs from his solo career, and two cover albums that the band had recorded, which the crowd faithfully sang along to.
However, things took a turn when Dando once again began to sing by himself, backed by his own acoustic guitar. Issues began to appear with the microphone, as the audio faded in and out. Eventually, Dando, seemingly bewildered, simply put up his hands and left the stage. The hubbub of confused concertgoers rose, as stagehands began to pack up the equipment on the stage and the bright, overhead lights came back on. There was a pause as the crowd tried to work out what was happening.
Talking to one of the stagehands, we were told that it was due to a double booking of the venue – a club night later that evening. Speaking to members of the crowd they described the band and their music as “the music of their youth” and told us about their disappointment. There was uproar surrounding the fact that the band had not played arguably their biggest hit, ‘Mrs Robinson’. The concert, however, had come to an end and, eventually, the crowd gave up and returned home. It was a strange and sudden end to the show.
I’d like to conclude that the support band Bass Drum of Death were themselves a highlight. They set the tone for the concert well, with songs like ‘Crawling After You’, sounding something along the lines of an American Arctic Monkeys.
Overall, this show felt anti-climactic. Whatever the cause of their sudden disappearance, The Lemonheads had played well while they were on stage, but it’s hard not to admit that the sudden ending soured the experience for some long-time fans at the show.
For updates on The Lemonheads’ tour and more news from the band, check out their website here.