@ Massey Hall, Toronto
March 3, 2018
Jimmy Bowskill plays guitar like it’s attacking him and he’s fending it off. And I mean that in the best possible way. His raw and emotional playing is in stark contrast to lead singer Ewan Currie’s calm and almost mathematical approach. It’s not that Ewan’s approach is wrong either. As the voice and chief songwriter, he acts as the heart and soul of the band, driving them through their performance. It’s that stark contrast that makes The Sheepdogs so captivating to watch. Decked out in a black suit – bedazzled in white doves and red flowers, Ewan Currie lead the band out on stage, followed by his guitarist dressed head to toe in a yellow suit with red fringe that would make Elvis jealous. The ‘Dogs looked every part of their new 70’s soul inspired album, Changing Colours.
Wasting no time they ripped into the album’s first single “I’ve Got A Hole Where My Heart Should Be.” A man of few words, it wasn’t until four songs in that Ewan Currie addressed the crowd welcoming them to the tour and promising a lot of music to hear, new and old. They would not disappoint playing deep cuts such as “Please Don’t Lead Me On”, “Laid Back” and my personal favourite, “I’m Just Waiting For My Time,” a song that featured Jimmy Bowskill on an incendiary fiddle solo. Fan favourite, “Who?,” had the capacity crowd on their feet, singing every word. Massey Hall was bursting at the seams – filled with beard faced, plaid and denim wearing, toque topped fans clamouring for the band’s famous Saskatchewan brand southern rock. A more Canadian crowd there could not be. In fact as The Sheepdogs finished up “Southern Dreaming”, Ewan admitted he had written that song 10 years prior when he felt he was destined to live his life in the United States. Boos rained down on the band from every member of the crowd, almost to the surprise of the lead vocalist as he said “calm down, there are some nice people down there”. More boos ensued. Leading Ewan to introduce the updated version of the song for his 30’s, Up In Canada. The boos turned to cheers and Ewan, Jimmy, Shamus, Sam and Ryan continued through the set in front a leafy backdrop and a lit-up Sheepdogs sign.
The ghosts of Massey Hall all stood at attention. The faded memories of famous performances from years passed enveloped the band as they got stronger and stronger as the night wore on. Their airtight playing, now coupled with raw energy was pouring from every member of the band as they swaggered around the stage. “Feeling Good” had the century old venue shaking begging for relief. Relief that would not come as The Sheepdog closed out the main set with smash hit “I Don’t Know.” A brief interlude saw little alleviation as 3000 fans chanted, screamed and stomped for their favourite prairie boys to return. Wendel Clark, excluded of course. Future Nostalgia’s “Downtown” and “The Way It Is” from 2012’s Self-Titled album began the encore before being closed out by an absolutely incredible cover of The Allman Brothers’ legendary hit “Rambling Man”. A song that quite simply could have been a Sheepdogs original in another time. All to be out done by Shamus Currie’s trombone playing. Mutha fuckin’ Shamus.