Review: The Sadies at West End Cultural Centre, October 15, 2013

By Gary Conway

If Sergio Leone’s Man with No Name had drunk whiskey in a bar with a rock band-it would have been the Sadies.

If Iron Butterfly had played “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” in under three minutes-they would have been the Sadies.

If the Dead Kennedys had found themselves in a country bar instead of the Blues Brothers-they would have been the Sadies.

If Buck Owens had formed a band with Crazy Horse, they would have been the Sadies.

I actually heard Buck Owens play like the Sadies once on my Dad’s stereo, but he never let me play his 33s on 78 again, under pain of death.

The Sadies broke open their latest tour in support of their new album, Internal Sounds, at West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg Tuesday night. They performed to a packed house and did not disappoint the eclectic crowd.

The band, together since 1998, is made up of Good brothers, Dallas and Travis, along with Sean Dean on upright bass and Mike Belitsky on drums.

They have been called the best backing band for your new album in Canada, and while this is certainly true (Neil Young, Garth Hudson, Randy Bachman, Neko Case, and Gord Downie amongst others), once you’ve seen them live, you really don’t care. I first saw the Sadies back in 2002 touring with Blue Rodeo. In 2002 I was struck with their energy and versatility, and it was great to see that while they have grown as musicians, they have not lost the energy, velocity or love of the stage.

They featured several songs from their new album, covered Blue Rodeo’s “Palace of Gold”, and traveled through the back catalogue, paying special attention to 2010’s Darker Circles. They included in their encore an homage to Winnipeg’s The Guess Who’s with a blistering version of “No Time”.

Travis Good spits out his lyrics with vehemence and pleasure at the same time. When he moves into his solos and roams the small stage, he teeters on the edge of the abyss. But with the help of the exceptional rhythm section and the measured composer of brother Dallas, he always finds the thread back to the song, and the trail back to his mike.

The rhythm section of Dean on upright bass and Belitsky on drums does an excellent job of pushing the tempo, riding the changes, and keeping the runaway train on the tracks. Along with his considerable vocal responsibilities and leading the band, Dallas’ often-haunting guitar lines added a psychedelic texture to the atmosphere created by a multimedia element consisting of amoeba like images in shades ranging from red through yellow, that complemented the burnt orange and butter yellow of the brother’s classic country suits.

This is not your father’s country, your father’s rock, or your father’s punk, but somehow the Sadies have managed to internalize the phases of rock and country, boil them down to the essence and synthesise a unique compound.