The Sheepdogs may be relatively unknown in the UK; but in their native Canada and the USA, they are have already notched up a pretty impressive career so far with a Rolling Stone magazine cover, five albums, several No. 1’s and clutches of Juno Awards. Following a successful support tour with The Temperance Movement in early 2016, the lads are back again to show the UK what they are missing out on.
Tonight, the Rainbow in Digbeth is buzzing with anticipation before the band have even taken to the stage, and as a middle aged man chats to me about about the band being a reminder of the golden age of rock ‘n’ roll, it becomes apparent that I am in for a treat watching The Sheepdogs tonight. The atmosphere is heightened once the five-piece take to the stage and the audience applaud their new found idols.
Taking a chilled approach to the set opener; the band play the ever so mellow Where I Can Roam, which has lyrics that are oh so apt for a hardworking touring band. This also provides a nice contrast for when they burst into their next upbeat number, I’m Gonna Be Myself; which reminds me in places of Led Zeppelin, but with a country twist. The rest of the set is, in fact, much like an ode to so many of the brilliant classic rock and blues bands of the 1970s, and this is something that The Sheepdogs manage to emulate brilliantly, but with their own modern twist.
Speaking of the band’s influences, Southern Dreaming is positively Allman Brothers-esque, as they showcase their talent for playing tight dual guitar harmonies and charming front man Ewan Currie explains that the song is about “Getting away from the cold”. The Sheepdogs do also showcase their darker side too, when the band perform Jim Gordon; which is about a famous drummer who murdered his mother.
Perhaps one of the best things about seeing The Sheepdogs live is the multi-instrumental nature of the band, with most members switching between a couple of different instruments throughout the show. This, in particular was highlighted during Help Us All, when Shamus Currie got his trombone out to help to give the band’s performance an extra powerful blast. By the time that they perform final track I Don’t Know, everyone is well and truly bitten by The Sheepdogs’ bug and can’t help but sing along to the irresistibly catchy number.
Returning for an encore, the band make the decision to play a cover of Whipping Post by The Allman Brothers, and pull off a flawless cover. In fact it’s so spot on, that they could possibly convince you that it is their own song. Much like their apt set opener, Where I Can Roam, the Sheepdogs convince me that they still have a long future ahead of them in closer Learn & Burn, as Ewan sings “Well can’t keep looking backwards, there’s a lot for me to learn”.