Sunday, 6 November 2016

LIVE: Dawes at Islington Assembly Hall, Rough Trade West and Sofar Sounds (4/5 Nov 2016)

Since seeing them in Hackney last August I've been desperate to see Dawes again, so when they announced a mini UK tour for November a couple of months ago I was over the moon. I quickly grabbed a ticket and spent October listening to the record and getting excited... the show was on Friday in the beautiful surroundings of Islington Assembly Hall, my first show in the venue! Arriving expecting a queue I found only a couple of people waiting outside, and once we'd been let in I got chatting with two lovely girls at the barrier. The atmosphere was lovely and the show kicked off beautifully with a support set from Lily & Madeleine who recently released their record Keep It Together... definitely worth taking a listen to! Check out this live session of their track Nothing.

Lily & Madeleine
While chatting away to the girls at the front, they'd asked if I was going to the signing and acoustic performance the next day. There'd apparently been an announcement on Facebook for a show at Rough Trade West which I'd somehow missed... so I decided to see how I felt after the show, knowing I'd probably be heading back to London the following day for it. Dawes came on and played something like an eighteen song set, particularly impressive when so many of their songs are quite long! I got to hear tracks from the new album for the first time as well as tracks from the previous four, the show was full of incredible instrumental sections, solos, amazing crowd sing-alongs and a couple of stunning acoustic tracks, I was pretty overwhelmed - it was everything I'd hoped for and so much more. I recorded a couple of videos which I'll stick below... first up my favourite track from the new record, Roll With The Punches, and then I Can't Think About It Now, which is my favourite track from the previous album (All Your Favourite Bands) and, I think, one of my favourite tracks of all time, so hearing it live was really special (apparently they played it at Hackney too, but the track certainly didn't mean so much to me then!)

After hanging around at the merch stall, I left the venue and found a little group of people waiting to see if the band would come out. They're one of my favourite bands and their music means an awful lot to me, so I figured I'd stick around too. Their lovely tour manager took some of the other guys' stuff up to get signed, and they mentioned the Rough Trade set to him, at which point he said they were also playing a Sofar show after it. I've only ever been to Sofar in Oxford, where we have one or two shows a month - in London this month alone there are 92, so when I checked online I found there were three shows last night. Luckily, after hanging around a little longer, Taylor, the lead singer and guitarist of the band came out. Meeting him was pretty special and he kindly checked which show it was they were playing. Suddenly one Dawes show had turned into a couple of days of following them around for three shows. I headed back on the coach to Oxford, getting back at 2am and heading back to London to meet a friend eight hours later... tired but pretty happy! After a little shopping we headed to Rough Trade West for the instore, where we met with Christine, one of the lovely girls I'd met the night before. Crammed into the tiny store (which I also hadn't been to before, only the East London shop, and Nottingham) Taylor opened the show with a solo performance of For No Good Reason before Lee and Griff joined him for Million Dollar Bill and Roll With The Punches (which I filmed a tiny bit of), after which, deciding how to fill the last few minutes of the set because "all my songs have too many words", he played Now That It's Too Late, Maria ("it's like a song and a half"), the track which closes their fourth record. After a quick album signing we headed to the tube, and after saying goodbye to my friend, Christine and I travelled over to Farringdon, arriving a little early at the venue for Sofar Sounds, the iMakr studio, the world's largest 3D printing store.

Dawes at Rough Trade West
Opening up the night was Bruce O'Yates and his band... amusingly (and rather cool) he'd been to the store before to have his face 3D printed for his album cover - you can see it just behind him to the right on the pic below! I really enjoyed his set, check out his track Helen here. Next up was Natalie Wildgoose playing a solo keyboard set of jazzy tunes!

Bruce O'Yates
Up last, and finishing off a brilliant couple of days were the Dawes guys, this time with Taylor, Lee and guitarist Trevor. They played a different set to the earlier one as they knew a handful of us were going to be at both, opening with Taylor playing Moon In The Water solo before (not sure of the order) Something In Common, Picture of A Man and Somewhere Along The Way (little video of that here). Luckily the rest of the audience enjoyed it as much as us and requested an encore, and crikey, did they deliver... in the form of a song "we've never played for anybody", entitled My Greatest Invention. It was a little emotional and a beautiful way to finish off the little trio of shows!

Dawes at iMakr Store for Sofar Sounds
After a little chat with Taylor and Jerry, their tour manager, I headed back to get the coach back to Oxford. An emotional coach journey reflecting on what had just happened - seeing a band I've admired for a few years up close and personal like that in such a raw, stripped back environment where you can really appreciate their musicianship and Taylor's fantastic songwriting was truly special! Wishing them safe travels back to LA and hoping that it isn't too long until they're back in the UK! Also if you've made it to the bottom of the post and you're not already a Dawes fan... get listening to them - there are five fantastic records for you to choose from, and so many incredible tracks!


  1. Nice review, thanks. Don't tease us long-time fans... what was the new song like?

  2. Thank you so much for the great writeup and the videos! Can't get enough of these guys.