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Time seems to have stood still for Evan Dando – possibly literally as he’s nearly an hour late on stage. This most likely isn’t anything to do with him, but the smoke alarms flashing a red light and emitting an intrusive beeping noise that go off almost as soon as Cardiff-based support act Bedford Falls leave the stage. They continue beeping as the last Biffy Clyro album is played over the PA system The Biffy album plays right until the end. No sign of Evan. Alarms still bleeping. Evan pops on stage to look at something then disappears again. Biffy album starts once more. Alarms still bleeping. The Biffy album is now almost at the halfway point for the second time. No sign of Evan. Bloody alarms still bloody bleeping. Alarms stop. Crowd cheers. Biffy album stops. Crowd cheers. Evan comes on stage with guitar, mumbles something incoherent into a non-live mic. Crowd cheers while straining to hear what he’s saying. Evan struggles to plug guitar in. Lead singer of Bedford Falls, who appears to have lent the headliner his acoustic, comes on stage to help him. He goes off stage for a second, then reappears again.

Once the show finally starts, his man out of time persona is fully apparent. In this day and age he is possibly the only man who can still rock double denim – double denim!. Time has evolved his famed looks from flawless pretty boy to merely ruggedly handsome. With no preamble he launches into Outdoor Type and then rattles off one song after another with little pause in between. The last chord of one song leads into the first chord of another, not even waiting for applause to die down. Fan favourites like Confetti and The Turnpike Down come and go with no ceremony or introduction. I don’t think he actually opened his eyes for the first six or seven songs, apart from when he would double over to read a sheet of paper on the floor whilst playing. When he does open his eyes he has a glazed and confused caveman-presented-with-iPad expression. During It’s A Shame About Ray he completely zones out.

The above paragraph reads like a criticism, but it really isn’t. Yes, the early part of the concert is rushed and at times shambolic – in short, the same Evan Dando we all know and love. He possibly doesn’t know what city he’s in, but the solo acoustic format puts his strengths – his warm, rich voice and his songs – front and centre. The goodwill of a loyal and enthusiastic crowd allows Dando to relax and get into it more, and the predominately male crowd’s falsetto approximation of the absent Juliana Hatfield’s backing vocals during It’s About Time is priceless. Once he wakes up from Ray, he finds his feet with a rousing rendition of Rudderless.

The rest of the evening consists of other selections from the Lemonheads’ commercial heyday (omitting their last two releases) along with material from his lovely solo album and quirky covers including Skulls by The Misfits and Home Is Where You’re Happy by Charles Manson. Yes, Charles Manson. The mass murderer. Keeping in the spirit of the evening, his guitar strings snap during his last song. He returns promptly for an encore with a Gibson SG and, bizarrely, his hair combed forward, covering half his face like Jessica Rabbit. Signature tune Frank Mills finishes the set, combining the wit, warmth and poignancy that sums up Dando as a songwriter. I just hope he managed to find his way back from the venue okay.

Words and Photo: Paul McGarvey