Review of The Lemonheads at Wylam Brewery, Newcastle upon Tyne
11th February 2019

by Adam Kennedy of National Rock Review

Throughout his career, Evan Dando has become a regular visitor to the region having performed many solo shows on Tyneside over the years. However, tonight’s concert is the first time The Lemonheads have performed in the Newcastle area since 2011. Subsequently, it goes without saying that due to unprecedented demand tonight’s show at the Wylam Brewery has long since been sold out.

As the band hits the stage, they kick off the proceedings with a walk down memory lane with a run of back to back classics that includes “Hospital”, “Down About It”, “The Great Big No”, “It’s A Shame About Ray” and “Rudderless”. This early run of nostalgia most certainly transports the capacity crowd back to 90s indie rock heaven.

With barely room for pause Dando et al, string song after song together in a way which allows the band to maximise their set list. This evening’s musical marathon features an impressive 32 songs. With little room for on-stage banter besides the occasional thank you, the band prefers to let the music do the talking.

Earlier this month The Lemonheads released their first new album in a decade in the shape of Varshons 2. The group’s latest covers album follows suit from the first chapter of the record back in 2009. During the course of the evening the band take the opportunity to showcase their latest offering by putting their own distinctive stamp on an eclectic mix of covers ranging from “Abandoned” by Lucinda Williams, “Can’t Forget” by Yo La Tengo through to “Straight To You” by Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. With their distinctive interpretation of these tracks, The Lemonheads makes each of these songs their own.

As a group, The Lemonheads are incredibly tight. With a vast songbook at their disposal, the band have such a good read on one another that allows them to be very flexible with their set list. This, in turn, allows them to switch songs in and out of the show with ease, as well as take the occasional request. When a member of the audience shouts out for “Confetti”, Dando happily obliges resulting in one of the many highlights of a magical evening.

There is also plenty of room in the set for the inclusion of several tracks from Evan Dando’s solo career including the likes of “It Looks Like You”, “Rancho Santa Fe” and “Why Do You Do This to Yourself”. Tonight’s show very much represents a musical jukebox that perfectly showcases both Evan Dando and The Lemonheads extensive career along with their eclectic range of influences.

As the band heads into the final stages of the show they take the night full circle with a further run of classics in the shape of “Stove” and “If I Could Talk I’d Tell You”, which in turn leaves the Geordie faithful wanting more.

Tonight nobody is going home feeling short-changed, as The Lemonheads return to the stage for an eight-song double encore that includes fan favourites and timeless classics such as “Into Your Arms” and “Big Gay Heart” before bringing the show and the evening to its conclusion with The Jayhawks “Settled Down Like Rain”.

On the strength of tonight’s performance, it’s fair to say that the return of the Lemonheads may have been a long time coming, but it was most certainly worth the wait.