I first saw The Sheepdogs when they supported Rival Sons earlier this year. They were certainly not going to go unnoticed on that occasion as they were all dressed as fairly camp cowboys. I was certainly impressed enough to catch a full set from them upon their return to London at The Garage in Highbury, North London.
They all hail from Saskatoon, Canada but you could be forgiven for assuming they were born and bred in the southern states of the USA. Ewan Currie is a formidable front man on vocals and guitar, whilst Ewan is calm and controlled, Jimmy Bowskill counters this and gives the impression he is fighting with his guitar.
Ryan Gullen is an extremely animated bass man and is a blur for much of the gig behind his lengthly locks with his partner in crime, Sam Corbett complimenting him well on on Drums. Shamus Currie, Ewan’s brother, completes the line up on keyboards, trombone and guitar.
The band was welcomed to the stage, no flamboyant costumes this time around, and they settle straight into a Black Crowes style riff for the opener Who?, and this sets the tone for the next 105 minutes.
This is followed by the up tempo sad song I’ve Got A Hole Where My Heart Should Be. The tempo lowers ever so slightly for Bad Lieutenant from the Future Nostalgia album before Downtown from the same album takes us back to nostalgic Height Asbury era in the early 70s.
Right On has a Mr. Big style bass line running through it and Ewan Currie’s vocal manages to blend homage to The Doors, Steppenwolf, Lynyrd Skynyrd and even the Beatles. Southern Dreaming on the other hand is laid back and could well have been written by the Allman Brothers.
Cool Down is a great band number with Shamus Currie’s soulful keyboards throughout, his brother Ewan duelling with the impressive Jimmy Bowskill on guitar and the bass and drums of Ryan Gullen and Sam Corbett respectively bouncing off each other.
This was one of those numbers you never tire of hearing and would be happy were it to continue ad-infinitum but instead segues into the instrumental Kiss The Brass Ring. Sounds a bit rude but in the absence of a lyric who knows?
Three songs about their Canadian homeland, The Bailieboro Turnaround , Up In Canada and H.M.S. Buffalo slowed things down a notch before ramping things up again for I’m Gonna Be Myself.
A pedal steel guitar was brought on stage and Jimmy Bowskill sat behind it and the band gave us the very country sound of Let It Roll.
The pedal steel had Jimmy’s moniker etched into it so no mistaking who was going to take his position behind it. Another new instrument was introduced to the proceedings when Ewan and Shamus switched positions with Ewan on keyboard duty whilst Shamus showed he could certainly multi task and picked up the trombone for I Ain’t Cool and Help Us All.
This band has obviously had a similar education to many of us old hippies and unashamedly draws on the early seventies southern rock influences for much of its self penned material and no more so than How Late, How Long and Feeling Good. I Don’t Know brings the main set to a close but there is no way these guys were going to be allowed to leave the building without indulging the very appreciative audience with an encore or two.
Nobody from their latest 2018 release Changing Colours was a popular choice. The official video of this release is well worth checking out on YouTube as it is a take on The Blues Brothers playing the seedy joint behind a wire mesh.
No need for protection on this night as the entire audience was in tune with the band and they followed this and brought this excellent gig to a close with what they referred to as a homage song, Ramblin’ Man, if you closed your eyes you were transported back to the Fillmore East in 1971, it really was that good.
The Sheepdogs only played one cover all night and although they may not yet be on everyone’s radar they are worthy of serious attention as they have the ability to take you back to the 70s with the many references to that golden era throughout their set.