Dawes picks through discography at sold-out show in Boulder

“We’ve got a long night planned for you guys,” Dawes front man Taylor Goldsmith said to the full house crowd between songs. “We decided to be a little greedy and leave the opening band at home.”

Los Angeles natives Dawes stopped by The Fox Theater on Friday, Feb. 10 in Boulder, Colorado to promote their latest album “We’re All Gonna Die,” released on Sept. 16, 2016. Instead of doing the traditional album tour, they named the tour “An Evening With Dawes” which consists of Dawes being the only band, and playing for almost three straight hours. They plan to play every song on all five of their albums at least once during the string of dates. The set list is mixed up every night of the tour.

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You could say that Dawes is a modern day The Band, who is widely known for being Bob Dylan’s backup band. Dawes too has been the backing band for big artists, such as Bright Eyes and Brandon Flowers. Much like The Band, Dawes prides themselves on living the tough life on the road. Goldsmith’s guitar riffs even echo Robbie Robertson’s style.

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Dawes stops by the Fox Theatre on their unconventional album tour with no openers. Photo credit: Jonny Rhein

Dawes is Taylor Goldsmith, on vocals and guitar, his brother Griffin Goldsmith, on drums, Wylie Gelber, on bass, and Lee Pardini, on keyboard. In 2015 Dawes released the album “All Your Favorite Bands.” The title track is an anthem to their fans with the chorus being “And may all your favorite bands stay together.” Contrary to the central message of the song, following the release and tour of “All Your Favorite Bands,” keyboardist Tay Strathairn left the band due to musical differences. Pardini has since replaced Strathairn on the keys and has proved to be a much better fit in just about every way.

The band kicked off their first set with the first track on the new record “One of Us” and then went into old favorites such as “Coming Back to a Man” and “From a Window Seat.” They ended the set with “Less Than Five Miles Away,” and after the other members had walked off stage, Griffin Goldsmith and Gelber played with the outro for a while and then proceeded to join the rest of the guys back stage.

Dawes returned after a 15 minute break with three acoustic songs to start their second set. The Goldsmith brothers, Palini and touring guitarist Trevor Menear harmonized “Love is All I Am” over Taylor’s calm guitar chords. Griffin took over lead vocals for “Roll Tide.” His voice has infinitely improved since his lead vocal debut on the 2010 album “Nothing Is Wrong.”

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Dawes plays at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado. Photo credit: Jonny Rhein

Guitar and keyboard solos were scattered all over the night. Goldsmith knows exactly which note to hit at the perfect time. During the solo in the 10 minute song “Now That It’s Too Late, Maria” one specific guitar lick caused the guy next to me to let out a reflexive “Damn!!” Menear also had his time to shine. The guy is a maniac with a slide and he is almost as fun to watch as Goldsmith. Pardini turned out to be the missing piece Dawes had been searching for since the beginning. He transformed Strathairn’s old stiff melodies into intricate arrangements that took the songs to a new level.

The highlight of the show was the last song before the encore, the title track off the new album “We’re All Gonna Die.” The country/folk sound of the previous Dawes albums is nowhere to be found on this song and is proof of Dawes’ endless creative capabilities.

Not only is Goldsmith one of the most entertaining and tasteful guitar players to watch, he is a brilliant songwriter and story teller. All eyes were on him for “A Little Bit of Everything,” a touching ballad powerful enough for Bob Dylan to go out of his way to tell Goldsmith it is a great song.

What sets a Dawes show apart from most other concerts is the intimacy of it all. Every now and then, Goldsmith would explain the meaning behind a certain song, or he would ask an individual fan for help remembering lyrics to a song he wrote way back in 2009. When it was time to close the curtains and the last song of the encore was starting, Goldsmith concluded with, “It feels like we all did a lot of good work together,” and assured everyone that Dawes would be back in the near future.