Sheepdogs Round Up Excited Les Paul’s Tonight
My gig reviews normally start at the beginning and take you on a journey that you could have experienced if you had been at The Globe in Cardiff on Wednesday 6th April. Not this time!
What an encore as The Sheepdogs enthralled the audience with their version of the iconic Allman Brothers’ Whipping Post. The finale was the crowning glory of a magnificent night of live music come back to Cardiff very soon your music made Wednesday the new Saturday night. Now back to the beginning how did we arrive at this magnificent musical high?
Warming up the venue for The Sheepdogs tonight were local band The People The Poet. With new material from recently released EP Paradise Closed, and the excellent vocalist, Leon Stanford his confidence spills across the venue with quips as he engaged with the audience. The People The Poet, play their own style of Rock with Welsh undertones. Their confidence reflected that they were just back from performing in the USA at SXSW in Austin Texas. The music connects with lyrics that have something to say and the indie number Happy Being Miserable is an ironic observation of the British nation. The music though did the most of the talking as the quartet from Pontypridd delighted the crowds and once again showing this young band is one to watch.
Then with the stage re-organised and it was quickly time for The Sheepdogs rocking Cardiff once again, out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada with the keyboard draped in the state’s flag. The rock is full of deep riffs and a compelling mix of blues, boogie and southern rock. In reality, The Sheepdogs are a special mix of Canadian Rock authentic, melodic and a harsh edge that demands to be noticed. Tonight the set list allowed us to hear the music live from their current critically acclaimed album Future Nostalgia and a dip back into their extensive back catalogue. The Sheepdogs are brothers Ewan and Shamus Currie; Ryan Gullen, Sam Corbett and completing the quintet Jimmy Bowskill. The resplendent harmonisation of the twin lead guitars as Ewan and Jimmy entertained and shaped the melodic chords is the band’s signature. The guitarists were given the freedom to explore the textural shapes and tones of the six-strings thanks to the resounding work from the rhythm section Ryan on Bass and the drumming from Sam. Adding into this rock n roll mix is the keys from Shamus adding that deep tonal layer. The quintet of Sheepdogs deftly herded the Cardiff crowd into order and then in response a set list opening with I’m Gonna Be Myself, Really Wanna Be Your Man Tonight and One You Belong raised the tempo the excitement was growing with every note played and sung. The excitement and happiness kept growing with Who from their Five Easy Pieces album, full of vocal harmonization and the music curled around The Globe, music again weaving its magical effect.
The guitar riffs were classic rock, the solos full of deft intricacies with the rough intimacy of a jam and then on top of the melodic textures rose Ewan’s vocals who at times reminded me of Rich Robinson of The Black Crows combining to create the honest sound that defines the band. Good time rollickin rock, entertaining and fun. Southern Dreaming from JUNO-winning platinum album Learn and Burn. A lyrical ditty with the twin leads captivating, you just didn’t want the music to stop. The rock tinged with country blues, southern charm and the tracks kept pouring out of the speakers with subtle changes in textures and form this is live music at its best. Onto the stage a pedal steel, and Jimmy charmed us with the sound that is evocative of country music with hints of Hawaiian. This was not shallow music the lyrics at times were dark and created from life’s tragedies as with Jim Gordon. Paying tribute to the drummer who played with Little Richard and many more; often not remembered for the power of drumming for the greats it is the murder of his mother and undiagnosed schizophrenia. The Pedal Steel in this stripped down number was the perfect foil for the lyrics. The Sheepdogs delivered tonight.
With the chat of Shamus, he step from behind the keyboard, picked up his trombone. Brother Ewan took over keyboard duties. So now we had the unusual and delightful mix of harmonised trombone and lead guitar. The Les Paul’s were swapped for matching Gibson Firebirds giving them a Southern rock edge. Both the tracks from their self-titled album How Late, How Long and I Don’t Know raising the tempo higher we wanted more! Country roughed up with mighty boulders of rock, crammed with melody ad vocal harmonization this is the power of music. Another magnificent gig worthy of the title ‘gig of the year’. No signs of shepherds, The Sheepdogs don’t need any controlling they are the power of music unleashed to entertain and enjoy.