“Time just keeps on slipping through my fingers,” sang Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes during the Los Angeles band’s opening song at The Egg Performing Arts Center on Saturday night, as the Western-hat-wearing frontman and guitarist danced light-footed across the stage.
The tune, “I Can’t Think About It Now,” from the group’s acclaimed 2015 album, “All Your Favorite Bands,” started off with a bass-heavy groove and a nostalgic air – a sound that could fit seamlessly on a smooth-rock 1970s radio station alongside the mellow West Coast soft-rock of bands like Pablo Cruise and the Eagles.
Partway through the song, Dawes veered off into an extended Neil Youngish jam, showing some slightly rougher edges and the solid in-the-pocket grounding of bassist Wylie Gelber, drummer Griffin Goldsmith (Taylor’s brother), keyboardist Lee Pardini and guitarist Duane Betts (the son of the Allman Brothers Band’s Dickey Betts, who joined the touring lineup last year).
Throughout Dawes’ two-hour set at The Egg – received warmly by a crowd of 650 – echoes from the folk and rock of the ‘70s were inescapable: touches of The Band haunted the keyboard jam on “If I Wanted Someone,” and shades of Bob Seger, Jackson Browne and Lindsey Buckingham permeated throwback tunes like “Somewhere Along the Way,” “That Western Skyline” and “From a Window Seat.”
The California quintet is not breaking any new ground, for sure, and sometimes it all seemed a bit too neutered and toothless, especially on the sentimental “Bear Witness” and the sing-along breakup tune “Fire Away.”
But there were plenty of highlights. “When the Tequila Runs Out,” the new single from Dawes’ forthcoming fifth album, “We’re All Gonna Die,” was a cautionary tale about mixing tequila and champagne that inserted a welcome bit of swagger into the group’s slick grooves.
And they were absolutely at their best for a trio of tunes that found Griffin Goldsmith (a drummer with a truly great voice) leaving his kit to sing alongside his brother at the front of the stage on “How Far We’ve Come,” “Hey Lover” and “Take Me Out of the City.”
An entire show that showcased the harmonies of the brothers would truly be something, but before long they were back to ’70s-sounding nostalgia on “From the Right Angle,” a cautionary tale about falling for a touring musician, crowd-favorite “When My Time Comes” and show-closer “All Your Favorite Bands.”
Basia Bulat, a Canadian folk singer-songwriter whose latest album “Good Advice” was produced by Jim James of roots-rock band My Morning Jacket, wore a sparkling cape during her opening set of downbeat tunes – some penned during time living in Canada’s wild and sparsely populated Yukon territory. She alternated between accompanying herself on autoharp and ukulele for songs like “Heart of My Own,” with its shades of Joni Mitchell, the entrancing “In the Night” and glittering pop tune “Fool.”
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