Brotherly Love at The Sadies + Li'l Andy + Will McClelland Show

POP Montreal 2016

It was a brother takeover at Theatre Fairmount on Saturday night with The Sadies, fronted by Dallas and Travis Good, headlining a night to celebrate the release of Will McClelland's The Minted

I arrived just in time to hear Will McClelland reading an excerpt of his newly published novel, a sardonic imagining of a Canadian near future when environmental degradation has reached a crisis level. The animals, led by a charismatic talking moose fed up with human greed, begin a reign of terror, aiming to take back the Canadian wilderness. McClelland read a passage as The Moose, a fiery speech to rally the animals into action. The assembled crowd dove into character as geese, banded kingfisher, and rock dove, shouting back their response. McClelland's work is equal parts mordant and hilarious, deeply imaginative and carefully crafted.

Next up was Li'l Andy and his band playing a concise set of their brand of dark country. Tales of travelling through out-of-the-way towns ("Out on the Old Highway") and the terrifying and awesome mechanization of the West ("See the Train Arrive") are Li'l Andy's signature, but it's not all soot and shadows. Moments of levity were plentiful with Li'l Andy showing off his quick wit with songs like "Ah, Loneliness" and droll between-song banter. Joe Grass on pedal steel and Joshua Zubot on fiddle played thrilling solos, exploring ground not typically covered in the genre. Josh Toal on bass and backing vocals and Ben Caissie, my favourite drummer to watch, round out the all-star band. The evening's man of honour, Will McClelland, joined his brother on stage for two Neil Young covers. Li'l Andy introduced Will as "the man who taught me how to play guitar," and seeing them share the stage was a sweet moment. The sheer glee they radiated singing harmonies on "Dance, Dance, Dance" was enough to get the whole crowd smiling. The band closed the set with a blazing rendition of "While the Engines Burn", Andy stomping and rocking out sufficiently to lose his hat. I applaud your fervour, sir.  

The Sadies took the stage to a packed house and dished out almost two hours of the kind of masterful playing you'd expect from a band entering their third decade of playing together. The set list was a mix of Morricone-esque instrumentals, country classics like The Louvin Brothers' "There's A Higher Power", and heavier, more psych-rock influenced songs such as "Another Year Again" and "Story 19". The set was replete with feats of fast fingering, the Good brothers often ramping up the tempo of songs to impossible speeds. When the band came back out for an encore, vocal audience members demanded "25 more songs!" and the Sadies delivered a very generous five. A friend I saw on the way out said, "The Sadies never disappoint". I couldn't agree more.


--Sue Snyder is the tall chick in the front row blocking your view of the band. She's also a belly dancer making unusual dances with her cosmic twin under the name Cult of Yes. Find her on the Twitter @Susie_Qc.