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Dawes - Brixton Windmill, London, 17/2/2012

  by Daniel Cressey

published: 16 / 2 / 2012

Dawes - Brixton Windmill, London, 17/2/2012


Dan Cressey sees American folk rock act Dawes perform a heartfelt and enthralling set at the Brixton Windmill in London

The musical contrasts between opposite ends of Brixton’s main drag on a gloomy Friday could hardly have been greater. At the cavernous Academy the questionable sample-based talents of dance musician Skrillex were on display for the entertainment of a rowdy crowd. A few hundred metres in the other direction the low-ceilinged Windmill played host to a doubtless more sedate audience, there to see another American export, the folk-rockers Dawes. And while Dawes are quite capable of making noise when they feel like it, they tend to focus more on old fashioned verse, chorus, verse song-writing. There is a definite pop sensibility to them too. Some of their lyrics ("You broke the heart of a quick-giving kid/And you're now coming back to a man", for example) might even seem mawkish when produced from a less engaging vocalist than Taylor Goldsmith. As it is, pretty much every song on display from the band hits the right notes, literally and figuratively. Judging by the reception they get from the packed Windmill crowd, Goldsmith has clearly perfected that songwriter’s knack of penning a couplet that simultaneously triggers both the ‘I know exactly what you mean’ and ‘I could never have put it that well’ responses in his listeners, as he ranges over the beginnings, middles and ends of love affairs. As their profile increases over here comparisons with Mumford and Son seem likely, although probably unfair. Both groups share a heart on sleeve, close-harmony approach to song writing. But Dawes seem steeped not in deliberate retro-folkiness but in lazy but heartfelt California vibes a la of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, or the better moments of the Eagles. (Media coverage has frequently accused them of harkening back to the Laurel Canyon vibe.) There’s far more of a rock sensibility to Dawes, who come complete with a nice line in bass lines and classic rock guitar solos. In fact it seems unfeasible that Dawes will not at some point find themselves playing to an equally rapt crowd at the other end of Brixton, or one of London’s other significantly larger venues.

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Dawes - Brixton Windmill, London, 17/2/2012

Dawes - Brixton Windmill, London, 17/2/2012

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