Dawes - 17/07/2013


I went to see Dawes without any preconceptions. I’d heard two of their songs that day and was completely undecided on whether I liked them or not. In this respect my view is unaffected and unbiased.

The band must be doing something right. They played to a sell-out crowd, who, almost without exception, knew every word to every song.

They opened with From A Window Seat (video below), the first single from their upcoming album ‘Stories Don’t End’ (out in the UK on 19th August). It’s a funky number that lifted the energy level to a high plateau that was hardly left throughout the set. Perhaps this was the main problem for me. I don’t want to be misunderstood – I enjoy an anthem, but it felt like every song had to be a little bit epic. This can be a little tiring.

The band had a thick and warm sound on-stage. A whirring Hammond organ whistled and wailed through almost all of the songs and the plodding bass guitar created great feel. I really enjoyed this element of their performance. They had a fantastic groove that was satisfying to listen to and a depth of sound that you can get your teeth into.

It turns out Dawes play a heroic variety of Americana blues folk. Each chorus was met with widespread brow-furrowing and fist-clenching. At times it had the feel of the shorts donning American-dad rocking the tunes in the car while the family all sing along. They’re also on their way to summer camp. The funny thing is that it is hard not to join in. The songs are catchy and contagious. I found myself regularly recalling a chorus on my way home, and again the next morning.

My highlight was ‘When My Time Comes’. It is an undiluted big summer beat – a song that will get you singing loud and smiling at whoever you are near. Incidentally this is exactly what happened at the concert.  Those well-versed fans went all out and accompanied the chorus with lung busting vigor and volume.

There is no pretention in Dawes’ music. The songs are written as they come out. They’re good old-fashioned honest country blues ballads. Lots of words like ‘heart’, ‘angel’, ‘shadow’, ‘love’ and ‘dream’ were used, but I’m not sure if it matters. Sometimes it’s ok to drop your guard. It’s ok to dream of drying the joyful tears from the beautiful eyes of your true love while sitting next to a flowing mountain river – wistfully discussing Heartbreak and blossoming romance. Just don’t do it too often, or tell anyone.