The Lemonheads and not being able to recreate

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

The Lemonheads at The Ritz, Manchester

The retrospective gig, which The Lemonheads at the fine Ritz in Manchester ostensibly is, assumes that the album work being celebrated is not only worthy of such devotion but will also stand up to the scrutiny placed on it.

Tonight the album some souls unimpressed at Seattle call early 90s America's finest (half) hour It's a Shame About Ray gets played in its entirety by a laconic Evan Dando.
Time has been graceful to Dando but not passed him over. His surfer/slacker looks are worn in, his mannerisms well practiced. He adjusts amp and levels between songs with an edge to perfectionism not in keeping with his image.

Dando start the show strumming solo before plunging into the album being celebrated with bassist and drummer. The pace is unrelenting.

The album stands up well being payed over more franticly live than memory of mellowed out listening suggests it would be. As an album It's A Shame About Ray captured stories - generally thought to be biographical - of a crossroads in a person's life. It tells of a turning that leads to a narcotic haze, another away from that and any number of compensation that come in companionship.

Dando pours an quart of his soul into the encapsulation of that that is My Drug Buddy. At times I've listened to Ray - and I'm no one's drug buddy and never have been - but heard challenging questions about if it is right to leave behind someone in the interests of improvement or do you owe it to that person to battle on together. I think of people I've known and shared things with but never see again. I think of The Beatles In My Life.

No Mrs Robinson, never a part of the album just a cd bonus track, but after Ray is done and the band work through some entertaining numbers from around their still continuing career it is contextualised in the same way Bridge Over Troubled Waters came at the moment Simon and Garfunkle's reached its shattering summit.

All albums capture a time for the audience which passes too quickly, not all do for bands who are required to live with their work and see it bleed back and forth unto other work. Ray though is an album of friction from a decision now resolved.

Live the album can be repeated, one doubts it could be recreated.

Written By Michael Wood Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

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