It’s Tuesday night and I’m at the 100 club on Oxford Street in London’s West End. This famous old venue started life back in 1942 and has seen many legends in music grace it’s stage over the years, Louis Armstrong, Muddy Waters, the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols and Oasis. It’s not often you’ll see that list of names in the same sentence but it just shows the diversity of acts who have performed here over the years.
Tonight the Sheepdogs from Saskatoon, Canada are playing the last night of their UK and Ireland dates before heading over to continental Europe for further dates. They have a new self-titled album out produced by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney and Austin Scaggs. There is a buzz in the room tonight, that feeling you get when you see a club packed full of people who are eager to hear the new songs and see the band live.
The Sheepdogs take to the stage and I’m standing right in front of Leot Hanson’s guitar amp which is set to loud, my ears are still ringing. The first few songs ‘Gonna Be Myself’, ‘I Need Help’ and ’Southern Dreaming’ seem to fly by and the audience are lapping it up. The band are playing well but you sense they are trying hard to get the sound right but it’s sounding good. By the time they play ‘Right On’ you can see their hitting their stride and starting to enjoy themselves.
About midway through the set Ewan Currie takes to the keyboard for a very moody ‘Ewan’s Blues’. For me this was a turning point, it seemed like they have shifted into a higher gear because from then on the place is rockin’. Next up is ‘Who’ and the vocal harmonies are blending together really well.
The Sheepdogs music pulls in a range of southern rock influences, I can hear echoes of the Allman Brothers in ‘Javelina’ and Lynrd Skynrd in ‘I Don’t Know’ but it’s good and it works. The high point of the show though is when Ewan sings ‘Well I can’t keep looking backward’ the entire audience respond with ‘there’s a lot for me to learn’ from ‘Learn and Burn’. At the end of this song Ewan recognising the effect this song has had on the audience said “Yeah, that’s the spirit, right there”, it was a memorable moment.
The temperature has been steadily rising throughout the gig but now the 100 Club is hot and sweaty as the Sheepdogs play their final songs, ‘I Don’t Get By’, ‘Catfish 2 Boogaloo’, ‘I Don’t Know’ and ‘How Late, How Long’.
This has been a great gig, no nonsense head shakin’ rock ‘n’ roll and you can see why the band are making waves not only in Canada but wherever they play. They have been very well received in the UK.
There is just time for an encore and they finish off the show with a cover by one of their heroes, fellow Canadian Neil Young’s ‘Down By The River’
That’s it, the gigs over but the song that I was in my head all the way home was ‘Learn and Burn’.