There are always so many great opportunities to see live music in London that I could probably find an artist or band that I would want to see every night. I have long decided that choosing the venue is a good way to traverse what can be a time-consuming and expensive path. Tuesday 19th July was one of those evenings where the venue really paid off. How wonderful then to be sat opposite Jackson Browne in a boozer while he catches up with friends (I notice he asks for a plate and steals some fish and chips) knowing I am about to see him in a venue not much bigger than the living room of my small terraced house (admittedly I am including the open plan kitchen… but hey that is still an intimate setting!)
While I booked my ticket to see Dawes whose recent 'Nothing is Wrong' album is both wonderful and a fairly obvious homage to early seventies Jackson Browne there were rumours cirulating that Jackson was to attend the same line-up's Borderline show on the following night. Unable to attend the Borderline show I was so pleased to see the large cases outside the Slaughtered Lamb in Farringdon emblazoned with 'Jackson Browne'. Dawes having backed Robbie Robertson now had JB as a mentor and it seemed that he wasn't going to let these young bucks out of his sight even for a warm-up gig in a tiny basement.
Just a few days earlier I was offered a free ticket to see James Taylor at the 02 and while it was nice to be in the same stadium size space as a legend there were too many MOR moments and sterile arrangements which were too far removed from Mud Slim and Sweet Baby James. This gig was the polar opposite.
Dawes started proceedings with 'Million Dollar Bill' a quieter moment from 'Nothing is Wrong' and previewed on the Middle Brother 'supergroup' offering suggesting that in Slaughtered lamb tradition that this would be a muted gig. With a rhodes and pump organ, bass, muted drums and an electric the foursome worked their way through the album and the volume crept up. Taylor Goldsmith's voice was passionate and powerful, hell… 'A Little Bit of Everything' ( which could close Jackson Browne's 1974 'Late for the Sky' LP) with it's strangly poignant vignettes led by that simple motif put a lump in my throat. While straightlaced and unambigous Dawes hit the spot, highights include a John prine Cover (Crazy as a Loon) and of course 'When My Time Comes' which has my Kiwi friend howling along even though he has never heard it before.
Jonathan Wilson, freshly signed to Bella Union had a hard act to follow and quite frankly he failed to deliver his hippy-ish laurel canyon revisited thing felt a little fake and although I have bought into it before his songs felt hollow. I am not sure if Simon Raymonde from Bella Union was wishing he had beat Loose Music to 'Dawes' I know I would be. Maybe we could all see JB sat two sofas to the left of where I was sitting. Jackson joined Jonathan Wilson for a song before launching into a beautiful 'These Days' and 'Our Lady of the Well' then 'Take it Easy'. Hats off to a legend who is still happy to kick around in a small pub in Farringdon and champion young talent. James Taylor I hope you are taking note!