Thursday, 21 July 2011

Jonathan Wilson gig review


Jonathan Wilson/Dawes
The Borderline, London
20/07/11

The Borderline is one of the last great venues in London to attract international acts without being herded into a McGIG venue such as the O2 ARENA or somewhere equally impersonal and cavernous with their own history hall of fame pictured as you walk in. From the absence of barriers and wall of security guards blocking the view from the stage, it can be said that The Borderline is simply about the music rather than the bows and frills.

Tonight we have a double hitting of alt.country with Los Angeles’ own wandering sons, Dawes, as well as the headliner for this evening, and Dawes producer, Jonathan Wilson. There is also a rumour floating about that 70’s superstar troubadour Jackson Browne will be making an appearance later in the show, and going from the amount of 1000th wash vintage Jackson Browne t-shirts floating about the crowd I would say that this is more of an open secret rather than any amazing scoop that nobody could have predicted.

Dawes start the proceedings and waste no time in kicking the show into a high gear with their own brand of country rock with southern heavy guitars keeping things loud. It’s a refreshing breath of fresh air to see bands referencing acts such as The Allman Brothers, The Band and Little Feat rather than just running down the usual suspects of Uncut magazine approved ‘Americana acts’. Each member of the band brings something unique to the table, especially the excellent guitar work of lead singer/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith and the Levon Helm inspired drumming of brother Griffin Goldsmith, keeping the rhythm both funky while totally serving the song at all times.

Two of the biggest cheers of the night occurred in Dawes’ set when they first played fan favourite ‘Fire Away’ and secondly a very cool cover of Little Feats ‘Long Distance Love’, which was executed to perfection. The 70’s Laurel Canyon vibe the band brings to the proceedings is totally genuine and better than the majority of dial-a-folkie bands around trying to fight for the same audience. The band here is the real deal through and through…and this is just the support set!

The headliner tonight is Jonathan Wilson, and complete with Neil Young wardrobe he leaves nobody in the crowd confused about what type of music is about to be played. Most tracks fall into the ‘Cowgirl in the sand’ long jams which show Wilsons own proficiency on electric guitar with only minimal lyrics, support is given by Dawes (clearly earning their money tonight with 2 sets one after the other and giving the whole night a kind of ‘Last Waltz’ flavour). Some tracks actually leave the country rock genre and veer over to Pompeii era Pink Floyd territory (minus the flying pigs and Tolkien references of course). The track ‘Desert Sky’ featured an excellent guitar harmony dual between Jonathan Wilson and Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith, that was performed note perfect and brought back memories of the Allman Brothers without veering the track into Top Gear areas of cheese.

The rumours are true! Jackson Browne takes the stage with the band and after a settling in with ‘Gentle Spirit’ he takes over the group with his own classic ‘These Days’ which takes the crowd up a notch and even leaves a smile on Wilsons face as he tunes up for the next song and says into the microphone “God I love that song” to a smirking Browne, like the master just finishing a lesson. For me the song always brings back memories of Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tenenbaums which features the song on its soundtrack performed by Nico (ex-Velvet Underground singer and one time girlfriend of Browne). This isn’t the Jackson Browne show by any means and the next track this evening from this super group is a cover of the late great Warren Zevon’s ‘Muhammad’s radio’, which shows that even after nearly 8 years since his untimely death, what a loss Zevon is to music as a whole. After a faux “ending” the band were back and kicked into ‘Silver Moon’ (another guitar jam), but make no mistake the crowd were going nowhere without ‘Take It Easy’ and Browne, Wilson and Dawes supplied a full on version with close harmonies and a genuine love for the music. Only one miserable ‘fan’ stood behind me muttered “I can’t believe he played that, he’s just playing to the crowd, it’s disgusting”….but 1% will never out sing the 99% and tonight the smiles on the crowd’s faces as they leave the venue will always beat the pathetic opinions of Billy no mates and his ‘ironic’ Pac-Man t-shirt. Taxi!

Here's a link to Jackson Brown, Jonathan Wilson and Dawes playing "these days"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwx2wKXr8TY

1 comment:

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