The Lemonheads @ Birmingham Irish Centre – 15th September 2009

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The two support acts had the common theme of being solo male artists playing acoustic guitars, neither of which were particularly awe inspiring. Both were competent musicians and songwriters; however, on reflection, I am struggling to recall that much about their music and performance. Acoustic musicians have the unenviable task of being truly listened to, as audiences tend to talk over them unlike electric gigs, where an audience is forced to listen due to the volume of the music. Unfortunately, both artists had to battle against a chatty crowd which hindered the atmosphere that they were probably trying to create. Saying that though, the second artist on, Richard Burr (or Burke possibly, but no one seemed to be able to confirm that for me), did perform a pleasant cover of Yazoo’s Only You which was appreciated by a number of the audience.

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The Lemonheads‘ entrance is incredibly low key and, instantly, takes you back fifteen years, to a time when bands just got on with the job in hand, with minimal fuss and effort. The band start with Down About It followed by the quirky and catchy track, Confetti both of which remind you of The Lemonhead’s ability to write quaint little ditties that can’t help but bring a smile to your face. Unfortunately, this is hindered by the mix, which leaves Dando’s vocals sounding muffled ; oddly the vocals sounded better if you were in the toilet or outside. The set continues with the dynamic Style, which demonstrated the band’s ability to add a rougher edge to their sweet sound, followed by (My Drug) Buddy. As their songs are so short, The Lemonheads manage to plough through fourteen tracks, including the crowd pleasing It’s A Shame About Ray, all of which conform to the successful formula expected of the group.

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The band leave Dando on stage to pick up his acoustic guitar and show the support acts how it should be done, apart from a technical issue arises only a few bars and he leaves the stage briefly. On his return he plays a nine song set, starting with All My Life followed by Favourite T both of which draw the audience closer to the stage. Despite Dando’s body language displaying an air of dolefulness, the crowd warm to him particularly when he begins playing The Outdoor Type. He completes the acoustic interlude with a heartfelt rendition of Into Your Arms, and restores my faith in men with acoustic guitars. The band return to the stage for the final tracks of the evening including the awesome Tenderfoot and Rudderless; however there is no room for an encore.

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The Lemonheads have never rocked my world as their music is too sweet for my taste, yet tonight they have made me take a trip down memory lane which was quite pleasant. It is unfortunate that the sound wasn’t up to standard as it did affect my enjoyment of their performance, but it was interesting to see a band that had been so popular playing such a small venue.

Review – Toni Woodward
Photos – Andy Watson

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