I went to see Evan Dando play a solo gig at the Dutchess in York the other night. It was an intensely moving experience for me and I was waxing lyrical about it in the office the next day when someone said their friend had been to the same gig and had said how awful it was. Their friend’s analysis was that Dando was out of his face on drugs, played sloppy guitar, rushed his songs and had zero interaction with the audience. It’s true that he played the first ten songs immediately one after the other (and he did get through a huge number of songs in the set) and that he held no eye contact with the audience, but to be honest this is kind of what I was expecting (having never seen him play before).
For me though The Lemonheads and Evan Dando’s songwriting represents some key moments in my youth, especially when it comes to my relationship with my wife (it’s out 10 year wedding anniversary today). When the dude sloshed out ‘Drug Buddy’ I held Nicola’s hand, closed my eyes and sang along – it was beautiful because it took us back to being 20 years old and driving across Scotland, where we were living at the time. I’m a guitarist and have always loved played loads of Dando’s songs – he’s a genius songwriter – and because he played so many songs we even got to hear some of the ones we least expected him to play.
The whole experience was further intensified by the fact that it was my first trip to the new Dutchess in York. The Dutchess was a seminal Leeds indie punk club that broke the best bands, played the best music and served the wickedest Sunday roast ever. Leeds City Council, worshipping Mammon (rather than the soulful youth underground scene which is the real beating heart of Leeds)
kicked the goths out of The Dutchess and turned it into a Hugo Boss store which I’ve never been inside. Thanks.
After running and recently selling York’s premier music venue Fibbers the Dutchess owners have all but recreated the Dutchess over in York, complete with a rubbish black and white TV showing what’s on stage, black peeling bubbling paintwork and an appitite for great music.
So while there was someone else in the audience thinking it was rubbish I was blown away, because it meant so much to me.
It’s the personal and the meaningful which makes things powerful to us. It’s when things really matter that we’re touched.