THIS one-time grunge pin-up couple have their problems – Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando has largely squandered his talent to drugs, while Juliana Hatfield battles an eating disorder and confidence issues.
Evan Dando and Juliana Hatfield
Star rating: * *
Reunited – purely platonically – the Bostonians are touring as a duo, sharing and trading songs out of mutual support and companionship. But what was to their betterment at this, at times calamitous, show – where even the malfunctioning stage lights acted reluctantly – wasn’t necessarily therapeutic to the listener.
Dando and Hatfield being of a genre that prizes feeling over flair, no-one could have come expecting a masterclass in technique. But it would be unfair on all the other duos out there who do bother to work on the basics to give this pair a pass on their sloppy harmonies and guitar parts, some of which were about as complementary to each other as two divorcees following a messy custody battle. Dando’s curious backing vocals and atonal guitar solo on a bust acoustic during a demolition of The Velvet Underground’s Pale Blue Eyes was proper money-back stuff.
They were better as soloists, Dando delivering an impressive take on Gram Parsons’s Streets of Baltimore, Hatfield a standout skeletal version of her angst-tastic My Sister. Tracks from The Lemonheads’ 1992 breakout album It’s A Shame About Ray were generously peppered throughout, the audience’s singing helping smooth over the qualitative cracks.
Three encores suggested a sizeable proportion of patient fans didn’t feel short-changed. The rest of our attitudes to this gig were best framed by the witty shout-out of one audience member, in reply to a mumbled “thanks for coming” from Hatfield. “Thanks for not coming,” boomed back the dissatisfied punter.