An Affecting Evan Dando Takes the Stage Solo

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Alone with his guitar at Largo on Friday, Evan Dando first sang with a plaintive isolation that felt almost like an echo of regret. Regret, perhaps, for the possibilities missed when the singer-songwriter, who in the ‘90s was poised to lead Boston alt-rockers the Lemonheads to Nirvana-style stardom, instead fell into drug use and disarray.

Reemerging as a solo act after four years, he impressed both loyal fans and listeners who were unaware he was opening for Jon Brion’s weekly musical free-for-all at the Fairfax district nightclub.

His geeky guilelessness remained intact and, as the 40-minute set progressed, Dando’s stark vocals on such Lemonheads tunes as “Down About It” became warmer, and the songs sweeter and more whimsical. The casual, straightforward presentation underscored his affection for folk and country, but he highlighted material from throughout Lemonheads history, stripping down such early punk-poppers as “Hate Your Friends.”


Actually, some of those songs had more charm and were more affecting than in their original forms. Lest things become too nakedly emotional, Dando offered low-key, lighthearted between-song comments that further connected him to the crowd.

The understated bliss was all too brief, however. Brion helped remedy that, bringing his guest back for another, shorter set during which Brion happily played piano as Dando offered a new tune along with such favorites as “My Drug Buddy.”