Dawes in Delaware
Photo by Billy Heemer
The Grand Opera House
A golden eagle adorns the ceiling above the stage inside Wilmington, Del.’s Grand Opera House, its wings stretched out as it overlooks the crowd from on high. Throughout Dawes’ Sunday night show inside the ornate room, trilling guitars and seismic drums interlocked with soulful harmonies to meet that soaring eagle on its level.
After Hiss Golden Messenger treated the audience to their swelling wall of sound to begin the night, Dawes took the stage right on time. For the next 105 minutes, beginning with a tasty, extended take on “I Can’t Think About It Now,” Taylor Goldsmith and company made the most of their first trip to Wilmington.
That opening tune segued seamlessly into “Things Happen,” another cut from the band’s latest record, All Your Favorite Bands. The set really opened up a few songs later, with another track from that album, the anthemic “Somewhere Along the Way.” The tapping of Goldsmith’s foot could be heard during the hushed bridge, before the frontman introduced their current guitarist in-residence, Duane Betts, for the first time. Looking quite a bit like his father, with a wide brimmed cowboy hat shading his eyes and a Goldtop Les Paul in his hands, Betts built his solo from long bent notes to an arpeggiated climax. Throughout, drummer Griffin Goldsmith laid down a solid foundation for his bandmates to build on.
In the months since Betts joined Dawes and keyboardist Lee Pardini replaced Tay Strathairn, the new lineup has continued to elevate the Goldsmith brothers and bassist Wylie Gelber. Betts pushed the outfit toward a ‘70s rock outfit at times, while Pardini took the lead with several piano and organ solos.
After a cover of “Fisherman’s Blues,” someone shouted out asking who wrote the song. Goldsmith replied, “That song is by The Waterboys. This one’s by Dawes.” They then launched into “Coming Back to a Man,” which was one of the night’s standout tunes. Griffin Goldsmith had his moment to shine, too, taking lead vocals on “Christmas In LA,” the aptly titled ballad for this American rock show in December. “Peace in the Valley” stood out as the longest tune of the night, as each band member soloed for at least a bar, before an intricate full-band interplay closed the 15-minute journey.
“When My Time Comes” eventually got everyone out of their seats to belt out the popular chorus. The crowd remained standing through the closing “All Your Favorite Bands,” as Taylor Goldsmith spun his microphone around toward the audience, allowing them to have the show’s last words.