Monday, February 20, 2017

Dada's brilliance on display at the Coach House

dada performed a rousing set of 19 songs at The Coach House
in San Juan Capistrano, CA on February 18, 2017.
If there was any justice in the rock 'n' roll universe, dada's performance at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, CA on Saturday night (Feb. 18, 2017) would have played out before an audience of 25,000 fans.

But the flip side of that dream is the reality that the fervent audience that filled the Coach House was treated to an intimate performance fully celebrating the 25-year-history of the groundbreaking trio. For nearly 140 minutes, singer-guitarist Michael Gurley, singer-bassist Joie Calio and singer-drummer Phil Leavitt delivered a dynamic and freewheeling set of early band favorites, as well as newer material and a mini-set celebrating a recent offshoot of dada, the heavy blues-styled 7Horse.

Opening with the melodic rocker "Dim" off the group's 1992 debut "Puzzle," dada immediately impressed with a bona fide blend of energetic rock, melodic songcraft and impressive virtuoso musicianship that answered the question if there is somehow an artistic intersection where power-pop, alt rock and prog rock blend in unlikely perfection. Indeed, across the 19-song set, elements of Americana, blues, space rock and even jazz that crept into the intoxicating proceedings, making for a memorable night where the sheer joy of making music and showcasing brilliant songs were in perfect sync.

Ask 10 different dada fans to name their favorite song by the band, and it is pretty certain you will hear the titles of 10 different songs. That aside, the setlist delivered in Orange County was pretty dreamy and seemed to thrill everybody in the house. After the soaring "Dim" came the luxuriant "Surround," with its strong lead vocals by Calio, and the otherworldly harmonies that came with the addition of Gurley's voice in the choruses. After their two voices arched high, that suddenly gave way to an incredible guitar solo by the gifted Gurley that came over Leavitt's propulsive drumming.

Highlights came delightfully throughout the set; the Americana-tinged "Information Undertow" found Gurley cupping his mouth to deliver the lush song's final lyrics, the sweet intentionally-jarring harmonies on "Sick in Santorini," and the dynamic harmonics and hammering guitar work featured during "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow," the latter featuring Leavitt and Gurley sharing lead vocal duties.

dada in concert on February 18, 2017.
"Feet to the Sun" has long been one of my favorite dada songs and the version performed on Friday fully immersed this listener, from Calio's potent lead vocals to the nuanced blending of instruments through the glorious choruses featuring all three band members' voices.  

About half-way through the night, there was a strong mini-set from 7Horse (featuring the duo of Calio and Leavitt), that provided a dramatic sonic detour with Leavitt singing local vocals on the blues rocker "Meth Lab Zoso Sticker" and Calio singing "Please Come On Home."

Joie Calio rocking at the Coach House.
The last half of the night featured so many memorable moments, from a bluesy take on British singer-songwriter Donovan's "Mellow Yellow" and dada's magnificent psychedelic rocker "Hollow Man" and the delightfully introspective "Bob the Drummer."

The night didn't end until dada closed the regular set with a rousing and extended version of the iconic "Dizz Knee Land" (complete with a bit of the Fab Four's "Norwegian Wood") and a powerful encore that closed triumphantly with the sweeping "Dorina." What a night.

Opening the night was the Los Angeles acoustic folk rock group Waldo Bliss, who performed a short set of Crosby, Stills & Nash styled originals and a convincing cover of the Beach Boys' "In My Room" and the Tracey Ullman hit "They Don't Know."

dada setlist at the Coach House on February 18, 2017
1. Dim
2. Surround
3. The Fleecing of America
4. Sick in Santorini
5. Information Undertow
6. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
7. Feet to the Sun
8. Love Is a Weird Thing
9. Ask the Dust (with extended jam)
10. 7Horse mini-set - Meth Lab Zoso Sticker
11. 7 Horse song - Please Come On Home
12. Mellow Yellow (Donovan cover)
13. Drum Solo / Posters
14. Feel Me (Don't You) / Satisfaction interlude
15. Hollow Man
16. Bob the Drummer
17. Dizz Knee Land
18. Moon
19. Dorina

Review and photos by Robert Kinsler


Ivonne Nelson said...

Another great Dada show! My husband Dave and I brought our two boys (11 & 14) for their first live concert. They will thank us later!
Can't wait to see the guys again.

Ivonne Nelson said...

Another great Dada show! My husband Dave and I brought our two boys (11 & 14) for their first live concert. They will thank us later!
Can't wait to see the guys again.