Courtesy of Juliana Hatfield | Myspace NXNE is a time to discover new and…
- Posted on Sep 30th 2010 12:00PM by Kenneth Partridge
Back in the day, Dando and Hatfield were a sort of alternative alt-rock "it" couple. Coy and underexposed, they were the East Coast antithesis of Kurt and Courtney. The Boston rockers shied away from discussing their relationship and made it through the decade without dying or becoming caricatures -- no small feat.
Still, they've got 20-plus years of personal history, and along with stunning good looks that have hardly faded over the years, that's enough to distract some folks from the music.
"You're adorable!" one female fan screamed at the start of Wednesday's show, before the duo had even played a song. If Dando and Hatfield heard her comment, they ignored it, launching into 'Paid to Smile,' originally recorded by Dando's longtime group, the Lemonheads.
The 21-song set featured a mix of his and her tunes, and they followed the opener with 'Choose Drugs,' from Hatfield's 2000 'Beautiful Creature' album. With the line, "I say it's me or drugs/you choose drugs," the tune was among those amateur psychologists in attendance might have reasoned were about Dando, who struggled with addiction in the '90s.
More explicit was 'Evan,' aired late in the set, which Hatfield admitted was about the guy sitting to her right. Trading her usual wounded-pixie vocals for a decidedly huskier tone, she sang of meeting and falling for Dando, drawing two conclusions: "I love you, I guess," and, "We could never be."
Hatfield has said these acoustic shows -- the first such performances she and Dando have ever given -- came about by accident, a story she stuck to Wednesday.
"Who's idea was this, yours?" she asked Dando.
"If you want to blame somebody, I'll drink to that," he said, smiling.
Whatever the reasons for their acoustic team-up, which continues Thursday at Mercury and wraps up, at least for the time being, Nov. 1 in Boston -- Hatfield and Dando seemed to enjoy themselves. They strolled casually through their set list, nixing some songs, conferring about lyrics or capo placement before moving unsteadily through others.
On the jaunty likes of 'Hospital' and 'Bit Part,' both Lemonheads tunes, they joined their voices in not-quite-perfect harmony, his resigned, foghorn bellow serving as a foil for her pained, strained -- yet somehow still gorgeous -- delivery.
In one of the show's lighter moments, the two discussed '90s indie-rock nostalgia -- all the rage at the moment -- and Dando told of an Australian friend that recently threw a "1991 party."
"What does that mean?" Hatfield asked. "You listen to Alice in Chains?"
Later, someone asked the duo whether they were having fun. Dando said he was, but Hatfield, famously aloof, stopped short of making the same admission.
"I don't speak of fun with my friend Juliana," Dando said.