Evan Dando, Leadmill, Sheffield

Leadmill, Sheffield

"Hullo, Sheffield!" cries Evan Dando. "It's a long time since I've been here." A decade has passed since Dando - then fronting Lemonheads, a solo vehicle in all but name - was the darling of indie girls everywhere. Like his tragic friend Kurt Cobain, he shot to global fame from the US underground and was equally uncomfortable with stardom. Dando said he'd rather be watching the shows than on stage. He particularly hated the fact that Lemonheads' cover of Simon & Garfunkel's Mrs Robinson outsold his own gorgeously crafted takes on country rock.

Six years after he last played in the UK to general indifference, Dando is back and on a much more even keel. His new album, Baby I'm Bored, shows his talent for pop hooks and plaintive melodies has not been diminished by age or the drug abuse that almost killed him. To look at him, it's like none of it ever happened. The check shirt and enveloping haircut are unchanged.

The James Dean looks still smoulder. He still carries a guitar as if he's carrying a log. These days, he has a manageably large audience, some of them newcomers possibly intrigued by the man behind the tales. In the age of Britney, his music sounds completely out of time but deliciously so. No one weaves a guitar/vocal melody quite like Evan Dando.

His great talent was always for poignancy, and experiences have rendered this more potent than ever. When Dando sings "All my life, I thought I needed all the things I didn't need at all", the effect is eerie, spine-tingling and beautiful. He's clean now, but not averse to a mischievous "Has everybody had enough to drink?" But for the most part, he just closes his eyes and bashes out the glorious music, touching base between Nirvana and the Byrds. The set divides between old songs and new, and people mouth along with every word. He leaves to rapturous applause, but there's no encore. That's another needless aspect of the fame game he's glad to leave behind.

· At Brighton Concorde (01273 772770), tonight, then touring.


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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