By Caitlin Hutchison
For the last month, the four members of Dawes have been treating their thirsty European fans to a musical ride and taking them back to the ‘Dawes’ of time. The Californian folk-rock band showcase total melodic dexterity, immeasurable talent, and charisma that has knocked the socks off of audiences in Spain, Germany, and this week…Glasgow.
It seems the band saved the best for last when they arrived for the final leg of their European tour at a packed-out Òran Mór, where veteran Dawes fans and newcomers alike hung on their every note.
A night that was to end with hundreds belting the refrain to colossal rock anthems, began delicately with supporting act Katie Malco’s understated, pure, and at times melancholic renderings of voice and electric guitar. She unassumingly thanked Dawes for inviting her along and lending her their amp, which ‘they didn’t need to do’, but shouts of ‘goan yersel Katie’ let her know the audience were up for more.
Punctual to a fault, Dawes took to the stage at 8.20pm sharp and gave the expectant crowd plenty bang for their buck. We wouldn’t be without frontman Taylor Goldsmith’s impressively agile and prolonged guitar solos, but it was his odd grimace, jutting lip and unparalleled showmanship that immediately set the rock’n’roll tone and had us headbanging along within 30 seconds.
On a musical journey that took us from some of their earliest tracks to their most recent releases, ‘covering as much ground of these Dawes albums as possible’, the audience was treated to the diverse stylings that generate the unmistakable Dawes sound. Notes of blues, country, post-punk, jazz and even classical can be detected in their brand of ‘rock’.
One could have been forgiven for thinking that keyboard-player Lee Pardini might have been sporadically possessed by the ghosts of Jelly Roll Morton or Mozart, a simple testament to Dawes’s melting-pot style. Their live rendition of ‘From a Window Seat’ featured a very convoluted but welcome Floyd-esque intro, and ‘Feed The Fire’ was given a psychedelic techno flavour with funky bass lines from Wylie Gelber.
However, in this dynamically diverse set, their magic truly shone when they stripped back to infallibly tight 3-part harmonies, with drummer Griffin Goldsmith’s voice merging seamlessly with his brother’s. They played with a tightness only found in bands that have been playing for 10+ years, flawless down to the last well-placed consonant, but uncompromising on soul.
At one point a request for ‘Crack the Case’ was bellowed from the back of the venue, which they promptly acquiesced and prefaced with a brief observation about the world’s state of affairs: “Things are pretty fucked up in America right now,” Taylor said, “we’re all forgetting how to talk to each other.” Throughout the night they preached kindness, patience, compassion and forgiveness echoing their lyrical mastery of metaphor and simile.
After a solid hour and forty minutes, we begrudgingly reached Òran Mór’s cruel curfew and the end of the set. Their self-proclaimed aim was to have us ‘leaving happier than [we] came in’, and they more than succeeded. A thoroughly compelling performance from Dawes at their very best.