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Dawes plays to its strengths

The Fonda, West Hollywood, Cal., November 27, 2021

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Dawes front man Taylor Goldsmith was in great spirits, moving all around the stage and non-verbally illustrating lyrics to Dawes' songs with his facial expressions and hands. He mentioned how this two-night stand at The Fonda was an attempt to make up for the last time this five-piece played the club, about a decade ago, opening for Blitzen Trapper in support of the group's second album.

That time, Goldsmith lost his voice and struggled just to make it through the show. Tonight, though, he was both in good spirits and good voice. He and the band sounded strong for over two hours, mixing in singles and album cuts from throughout the act's career.

Along with familiar selections, like "Living in the Future" and "Good Luck With Whatever," the full band performed one new song, "It Comes in Waves," while Goldsmith sang one fresh tune, "The Game," solo on acoustic guitar. Goldsmith's "The Game," which is all about a songwriter (something he knows all too well), sounds like a real winner, whenever it appears on a record. The band closed the show, encoring with Black Sabbath's "War Pigs." At first, one might have assumed this finale was included for its stylistic irony, as Dawes is not exactly a metal band. However, nobody in the band was grinning ironically while performing it.

Goldsmith intimately sat on a front stage monitor to sing the piano-supported "A Little Bit of Everything," which is – although an older one – still one of Dawes' best songs. A few songs earlier, they played "Didn't Fix Me," one of the act's best newer songs, and is about a man in search of contentment.

Dawes has been changing up its setlists a lot during this tour, meaning those that also attended Friday night got a much different show. It also meant that, while the incisive "Time Spent in Los Angeles" was presented to Friday's crowd, it was unfortunately not brought out again Saturday. Also, this crowd didn't get to sing along with "All Your Favorite Bands." Such are the sacrifices for variety.

With that said, though, it was difficult to fault this show, which found the band playing to its solid ensemble strengths, from start to finish. Even if some of these songs are not your favorite Goldsmith songs, all are excellent.

Erin Rae opened with a quiet set of country-leaning songs. She drew mostly from 2018's "Putting On Airs," but also performed two new songs – "True Love's Face" and "Modern Woman." Best of all, though, was her cover of Sandy Denny's "Who Knows Where The Time Goes," which is one of the loveliest songs of all time. Rae's gentle voice fit it perfectly.

Although the crowd was a little bit sparse for a Saturday night, those that attended this one got a real musical treat.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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