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Dawes gives a precious gift

The Bellwether, Los Angeles, December 9, 2023

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Although billed as "Christmas in LA with Dawes & Friends," this concert wasn't really all that Christmas-y. Dawes, the headliner, only sang one Christmas-themed song (a cover of The Killers' "Christmas in L.A.") and included only as the next to last selection of the night. Few of the "guests" sang holiday songs as well. Nevertheless, Dawes – one of Los Angeles' greatest bands – looked and sounded fantastic playing primarily Dawes music. Their friends also performed well. Thus, it was a fine show, even though it wasn't exactly as advertised.

Dawes' originals were all favorites and included "From the Right Angle," "Comes in Waves" (on which the group had the second-floor audience do the Wave during its chorus), and "Most People." Dressed in an as-festive-as-he-gets red jacket, lead vocalist and (sometimes) lead guitarist, Taylor Goldsmith appeared to be having a great time, even though many of his songs actually deal with dark subject matter, like depression and suicide. Then again, Christmas in L.A. ain't exactly like Christmas in most other places.

Guests this night featured Sam Nelson (of X Ambassadors) who couldn't keep his dancing feet still while singing the four-horn-section-assisted go through of Donny Hathaway's soulful "This Christmas." Although she admitted to being under the weather, Mandy Moore (Goldsmiths's wife) looked and sounded elegant in a black evening dress while singing the original, "How Could This Be Christmas?" Jim James came on to sing the sad "Oh My Christmas Tree," while Madison Cunningham performed "Broken Harvest," whom Goldsmith introduced as "my favorite songwriter right now."

Goldsmith brought out the members of his old band, Simon Dawes, before being joined again by Dawes and his special guests for the show's finale. Of course, the night's last song was "All Your Favorite Bands," which sent the crowd home happy to know this favorite band is staying together. While not truly a Christmas music concert, this evening's show was nevertheless a precious gift comprised of treasured music and artists.

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