Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Lemonheads @ First Avenue, 10.22.2011

Before the show, photo by Ellen
The first time I saw The Lemonheads in concert was at First Avenue in 1990, prior to the release of their iconic masterpiece It's A Shame About Ray (1992). Since then I have seen varying lineups of the band at different venues around town, but last night's show was uniquely special because they performed Ray in its entirety, from start to finish. 

Like many members of 'Generation X', I experienced some of the trademark disillusionment and lack of direction often identified with this particular demographic, especially after graduating from college (one year prior to the release of It's A Shame About Ray). Judging from the looks of the crowd at last night's show, I wasn't the only young white male in '92 who felt a strong personal connection with this album.
Rockin Stroll!
It's a Shame About Ray has the notable distinction of being directly associated with a generation, something I imagine most artists would kill to have but very few achieve. It's a cultural phenomenon that just happens, which is why I think so few albums obtain such status. In fact, one of the things I found so interesting about last night was witnessing all of these people from my age group, eyes glued on Evan Dando, singing along to every song as if it were Sgt. Pepper or Thriller, or even Nevermind.

For some reason the night's scheduled opening act, The Shining Twins, did not arrive in time to take the stage (according to one of the bartenders the group partied pretty heartily after the previous night's stint in Chicago), so the first live sound we heard was the opening riff and heart-stopping launch into "Rockin' Stroll", setting off the first twelve songs of the night.

The Lemonheads' triumphant return to 1st Avenue
After Ray's closing song, "Frank Mills" (a cover from the 60's musical Hair), Evan played a seemingly random set of songs that included six from '93's Come On Feel The Lemonheads. The singer appeared very relaxed, asking for requests from the audience. My friend Ellen and I both commented on how the ageless Dando seemed to really be enjoying himself, even smiling a few times throughout the night. Towards the end of the set the other members of the band returned for a few more songs.

10.22.2011 setlist:
  • All twelve songs from It's a Shame About Ray
  • "The Outdoor Type"
  • "Frying Pan" (Dando solo tune from '93)
  • "Why Do You Do This To Yourself" (another Dando solo song, from the Baby I'm Bored album)
  • "It's About Time"
  • "Being Around"
  • "Divan"
  • "Different Drum" (early Lemonheads cover of the Linda Ronstadt hit written by Monkee Nesmith)
  • "Down About It"
  • "Hospital"
  • "No Backbone"
  • "Tenderfoot"
  • "Big Gay Heart"
  • "Into Your Arms"
  • "The Great Big No"
  • "Style"
After "Style", the very tardy Shining Twins arrived on stage to sing one song, and then the show was suddenly over.  The venue's video screen began its slow descent (which always means "show's over folks - goodnite!"), and as the house lights went up the room was filled with stunned whatthe? faces. Sorry, no encore. It was the first time I'd ever seen an opening act perform the night's closing song!  An awkward and odd ending to what was otherwise a pretty killer, and certainly memorable show. 

Oh - and those Shining Twins had best be counting their blessings today because if Ellen had gotten within arm's reach of either of them she would have clocked 'em.

1 comment:

christopher575 said...

I had a really great time at the Pixies "Doolittle" show. I'd like to see more shows focusing on classic albums.