If Satan offered me Lee-La Baum’s voice in exchange for my soul, I would be belting out rock anthems faster than Tom Shemer’s wicked fingers.
This force of nature who could possibly be the love child of Joe Cocker and Grace Slick. Is the power house vocalist for Montréal’s very own The Damn Truth.
Last night they exploded on to the MTelus stage in full throttle, proving that there is hope for the future of classic rock. Although it was my third time seeing them perform live, I still felt that rush when I heard their distinct sound. It’s not just the perfect blend of folk, blues and classic rock but that crazy energy they bring that can only be felt when witnessed live.
With a large silver peace sign in front of the drum kit, they really got the crowd revved up with their upbeat tracks from their latest album Devilish Folk which was released in 2016. (The title track was written about street kids living on the cold Montreal streets) “Get With You”, “Heart is Cold” and “White Lies” were performed with the kind of heat that could melt the ice off of St Catherine street.
When “Kind of Awkward” rang out I think that everyone in the place was screaming “you don’t know me” along with Lee-La who hypnotized us all with her sensual dance moves.
U2’s “Love Is Blindness”, slowed down the pace a little creating an intense moment between Lee-La and her lead guitarist Tom Shemer. It’s so easy to get caught up in their psychedelic groovy love fest that I even forgot there was another act to follow.
When Lee-La wails “there’s a fire in me and it burns, burns, burns ” you better believe she’s telling you the Damn Truth.
There’s a very good reason that even though it’s January and the weather is brutal, The Sheepdogs were able to draw a large and boisterous crowd, selling out the MTelus last night. As Ewan Currie, lead vocalist and guitarist clearly stated, right before singing “Feeling Good“; “playing rock ‘n’ roll makes me feel good”. And everyone agreed that he was right.
I fell in love with The Sheepdogs at first sound. They remind me of everything that I love about my favorite decade in rock, the 70’s. As soon as I heard “I Don’t Know” on the radio almost 10 years ago, I was hooked. This was before witnessing their long wavy hair, rugged beards and groovy 70’s western style. When lead guitarist and super skilled fiddler Jimmy Bowskill struts onto the stage in a lemon yellow pant suit with green embroidered cannabis leaves, sequins and red fringes, topped off in a cowboy hat, you know you’re going to have a freaking good time. This band never disappoints and last night was no exception.
They played for over two hours mixing it up with old and new tracks ranging from six albums. There was never a lull in the performance. These brilliant musicians allowed each other to shine, taking turns, switching up instruments and surprising us. Shamus Currie (keyboardist) picked up his trombone for the jazzy “I Ain’t Cool” while his brother Ewan took over the keys. And Jimmy Bowskill turned the place into a hootenanny with his fiddle on “The Bailieboro Turn Around.”
They opened the show with “Who” from “Five Easy Pieces” released in 2011 and slowly build up the excitement with newer hits like “Saturday Night” and “ I Got a Hole Where My Heart Should Be.” When their funky ”guit-harmony “ twanged during “Nobody”, MTelus became a huge dance floor with strangers nodding and smiling at each other. Following in the peace and love vibe that The Damn Truth created earlier.
They did not waste any time as they squeezed in as many favorites as they possibly could. The crowd went wild during “Help Us All” from “Future Nostalgia” (2015) and “Feeling Good” from “The Sheep Dogs” (2012). They saved “I Don’t Know” for the encore because these cowboys really know how to please.
Just when I thought that it couldn’t get any better The Damn Truth joined them on stage for a bluesy jam. Even though they were singing “I’m Going Down”, I bet there wasn’t one single person feeling blue after this unforgettable show.
Review – Annette Aghazarian
Photos – Steve Gerrard