Star rating – 5/10
I’m a bit wary of the current trends for bands to attempt to recreate past glories, and restore their bank balances, by touring a particular album from their back catalogue. But as I used to love The Lemonheads, and enigmatic frontman Evan Dando is usually worth catching, I gave it a go this week on their ‘It’s a Shame about Ray’ tour.
First a word about the venue itself – the Ritz in Manchester, famous for its Monday night student specials back in the day. It has recently undergone a refit and reinvented itself as the HMV Ritz. What is the difference? I hear you ask – well to be honest I couldn’t spot much. They certainly haven’t lavished any more money on the floor - where your feet still stick like glue if you stand for too long on one spot. Maybe a dash of paint in places has been added – so just like old times then.
To be honest this 1992 album is not what I consider to be the band’s best – that honour in my book is reserved for ‘Come on Feel the Lemonheads’ from the following year if you’re wondering. But let’s not quibble. Their reformed but changed line up played most of the songs from the album and many more besides, so I’m not quite sure why the tour has been so entitled. Particular favourite moments of mine were ‘It’s a Shame about Ray’; ‘Bit Part’; and ‘Alison’s Starting to Happen’. Dando also played some great solo acoustic numbers such as the comedic antidote to the outdoors ‘The Outdoor Type’, and ‘Being Around’. I always love their ballads much more than their rock numbers. And his lyrics are very entertaining and to the heart of the matter.
But the one rock number that they didn’t play, to the clear disappointment of the audience, was their brilliant cover of ‘Mrs Robinson’ . Not sure why but not tactically a great move. They seemed to rattle through number after number, barely pausing for applause in between. The still wonderfully coiffured Dando did not try to connect with the audience other than a few muttered ‘thanks’ along the way. It all felt a bit disappointingly flat in places.
So maybe this rehashing old albums malarkey can’t ever deliver the dizzy heights of past glories, despite the feet sticking moments to take you right back there.