Rival Sons O2 Academy Leeds – 4th February 2019

by Alex English

Canadian blues rockers Sheepdogs support Rival Sons during their extensive 26 date tour of the UK, Europe and USA.


Sounding Southern blues, you might mistake Sheepdogs for being wholeheartedly American but this pack originates from Saskatoon, Canada.  They gained themselves popularity by being one of the first unsigned bands to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine back in 2011 after winning their competition, read here.  Currently touring with Rival Sons, they are the main support act tonight at Leeds Academy.

Opening up with I’m gonna be myself, thing first thing you notice besides the cool blues beats is the bands very colourful cowboy attrite,  just like Canadian whiskey they have a style of their own, with a characteristic edge.  There’s no denying that these five guys are something to behold with singer Ewan Currie dressed in emerald green and his fellow band members, bassist Ryan Gullen sporting an electric blue fringed shirt and Jimmy Bowskill wearing a very bright yellow two-piece ensemble, I’m pretty sure that’s not the Canadian Maple leaf he has embossed on his stage wear.

Performing their latest single Saturday Night it oozes with their own combination of blues party rock.  Sheepdog’s then throwing you a curve ball on the magical 70s  sounding Cooling Down, keyboardist Shamus Currie is as funky on the keys as the shirt he wearing on this progressive blues number, you can’t help but think of The Doors – Riders on the storm, and boy do they jam it, for what it’s worth.

Playing a stellar set the band played like they were playing to old friends, Currie narrates that a lot of people say you play a lot of rock and roll music and his answer is ‘’because it makes me feel good’’.  By now everyone in the crowd is rocking out with that feel good vibe. Keeping the ambience flowing, on I Don’t Know, think Credence Clearwater Rival – Green River and you’ve got the gist of Sheepdogs on this song, with their melodic blues rock. They have a good old jam session on final number Nobody, even keys-man Shamus picks up a guitar to join in on this slide-guitar country blues closer.

Sheepdogs will be back in the UK in June, for more info check out the links below:

The setlist for Sheepdogs click Here



Sheepdogs by Alex English

Band Members

Ewan Currie – Guitar and Vocals
Ryan Gullen – Bass and Backing Vocals
Sam Corbett – Drums and Backing Vocals
Shamus Currie – Backing Vocals and Keys
Jim Bowskill – Guitar and Back Vocals




Rival Sons

After an epic set from Sheepdogs, there’s a long wait as the stage gets set up for Rival Sons. There’s a backdrop projecting a skeleton of a dog with a beating red heart, it thuds away as the crowd anxiously await the American Long Beach rockers.

It has to be one of the longest intros as the backdrop is replaced with their vibrant Feral Roots album cover, it’s not surprising guitarist Scott Holiday is wearing shades as the band are blasted in white light for the impressive set opener Back in the Woods, the thrashing drum solo at the beginning of the song zaps the life back in to the eager fans.

Singer Jay Buchanan wows on the classic Pressure and Time, he’s a captivating frontman, and can he really hold those notes, hypnotising you with his dark searing vocals on the bluesy Too Bad, the fans love the performance, which is like a fevered Miles Davis track, high on acid.

Buchanan recalls the early days of the band when they toured the UK and played the tiniest of rooms in the now-closed Cockpit in Leeds too not many people ‘’now look at you all’’ he enthuses to the packed out o2 Academy.  Holding his hand to his chest during the heartfelt Jordan, Buchanan belts out the husky blues on this beauty.

With a quick interlude the band changes instruments as the crowd begin a chant of ‘woah oh-oh ohs’ from the next song and latest album title  Feral Roots, it’s like they already know what’s coming.

Tonight Rival Sons played all but one song off their breathtaking new album ‘Feral Roots’ and they add the much-loved classics Open my eyes to which there are more ‘woah oh-oh ohs’ on this moody rock number as they encore with the fans favourite Keep on Swinging.

If you’ve not seen Rival Sons before, you’re in for a treat, with big acoustic numbers and high powered classic blues rock throughout, you won’t be disappointed by their high energy and lust for giving a top-notch show for their fans, new and old.

Rival Sons by Alex English

Band Members

Jay Buchanan (vocals), Scott Holiday (guitar), Michael Miley (drums), Dave Beste (bass)

Setlist For Rival Sons click Here



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About Alex English