Vancouver enters a time warp with the Sheepdogs

The Sheepdogs and Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs at the Commodore Ballroom, 2/15/18

The Sheepdogs @ The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver
Photo by Peter Ruttan

Rock and Roll is not dead, and anyone watching the Sheepdogs with guests Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs at the Commodore Thursday night (Feb. 15) knows it. It was the first of two sold out shows at Vancouver’s iconic music venue, and the third stop of the Sheepdogs’ cross-Canada tour promoting their new album Changing Colours. 

It’s obvious that Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs just want to rock. And if you go see this band live, you just might find yourself pumping your fist in the air and singing along. The six-piece from Toronto stormed the stage clad in denim vests adorned with pins and patches. Four out of the six wielded a guitar, one of which was a double neck. Throw in a mix of distinctly garage rock tunes with a few less rebellious, but equally revolutionary numbers and serve it with more enthusiasm than a room packed with concert-goers can handle. Boom, there you have it. Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs.

The Sheepdogs @ The Commodore Ballroom Feb. 15 / 2017
Photo by Peter Ruttan

The Sheepdogs on the other hand are just way too cool for school. The quintet sauntered onto the stage to a legion of cheering fans. They opened their set with “I’ve Got a Hole Where my Heart Should Be,” the first release from the new album and an interesting choice the day after Valentines Day. They followed that with “Saturday Night,” another single off Changing Colours, before unleashing the hit “Who” from the EP Five Easy Pieces. 

When you hear frontman Ewan Currie’s luscious howl it’s hard to remember the year is 2018 and you are listening to a good old boy from Canada’s heartland. One could easily imagine the Sheepdogs have wandered through some time warp/black hole to a place and time where everything everything is groovy and funky and you just might dig it. Currie donned a white-collared shirt with green seashells in varying degrees of openness. To his left, bassist Ryan Gullen rocked steady in a black dress shirt covered in white and red roses which matched the hide on Sam Corbett’s kick drum. The mysterious green, red and yellow provincial flag of Saskatchewan was draped over Shamus Currie’s keyboard stand.

It’s hard to describe exactly how dazzling guitarist Jimmy Bowskill’s bright yellow one-piece suit was. It had long red tassels and a five-lobed vine crawling up the pant leg, around the back and over the shoulder. Currie referred to it as the “pot suit.” Jimmy Bowskill and the “pot suit” were clearly made for each other. Bright, happy, psychedelic twins.

The Sheepdogs @ The Commodore Ballroom Feb. 16 / 2017
Photo by Peter Ruttan

It was great night for Sheepdog fans. The set included most (though not all) of their beloved hits, with a liberal dose of new songs. All of which were very well received. There were jam sessions where the two guitars did all the singing – those were some of the highlights of the evening. Anyone who ever had the song “Jessica” by the Allman Brothers on repeat would say the same. Shamus Currie also showed his musical chops, stepping out from behind the keyboard to treat the crowd to a little trombone action and vocal capabilities.

The encore ended with a rocking rendition of the Allman Brothers’ classic “Ramblin’ Man,” which seemed to to capture both the mood and stylistic roots of the band perfectly.

Before exiting, Ewan Currie thanked the crowd for supporting live music. Thank YOU, Sheepdogs for delivering on so many levels…the reason many people choose to go to live shows.