Thursday 7 April 2016

Who Rounds Up The Sheepdogs After a Night Out in Norwich?

Proving that there is still a lot of love out there for good old guitar-based rock and roll as peddled in the 1970's by bands like The Eagles and The Allman Brothers and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Canadian band The Sheepdogs have rounded up a roomful of music fans at Norwich Arts Centre tonight, all prepared to share in that love.

Formed in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan ten years ago, The Sheepdogs are currently touring to promote their fifth album, Future Nostalgia. After completing the UK dates they head off to Europe before returning for US dates starting on April 28th in New Jersey.

Tonight's gig at Norwich Arts Centre kicks off with some pretty hard rock in the shape of shape of Happy Coloured Marbles, fresh from their appearance at this year's Next Big Thing semi-finals. Essentially a three-piece from Norwich, HCM are not afraid to blow the bloody doors off when it comes to playing live. They brought a large crowd with them when they played at Open. Whether the softer rockers here tonight quite knew what had hit them remains to be seen, but I now love them. Edgier than The Bohicas, and tracks like Let Me In really set them up for bigger things in 2016.

Happy Coloured Marbles

Anyway, back to The Sheepdogs. I struggle to think of any other band named after a canine breed (the best I could manage was Fabulous Poodles from the pre-punk days of 1975), but when the shaggy-haired quintet take the stage it is immediately obvious what inspired the name. Any thoughts of this simply being an homage to the glory days of Hotel California are rapidly dispelled as the band kick off with Where Can I Roam from the latest album. This is original, expertly-played boogie rock, that comes complete with keyboard and guitar solos, summoning up the ghosts of decades past but ploughing a path that uncovers new stones to be turned along the way. There's even a trombone thrown in for good measure.


The Sheepdogs live at Norwich Arts Centre

Any band that plays for nigh on eighty minutes without showing any hint of pastiche or insincerity surely demonstrates a genuine love for what they play. And that is what makes The Sheepdogs such a rare treat in these days of tribute bands dealing in sets comprising covers culled from the back catalogues of the 20th century boys. This is the real McCoy, not in any way a 'slow train running'. Future Nostalgia is an apt predictive title for what they do.

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