The Sadies are one of Canada’s most experienced bands; inaugurated into the demanding world of country music, the central duo of Dallas and Travis Good, along with drummer Mike Belitsky and bassist Sean Dean, have logged hundreds of shows both as the Sadies and as a backing band for performers like Neko Case and Andre Williams.

When I first saw them almost a decade ago, they played to 75 people in a basement club; nine years on their growing fame has led to a sold out gig at the 330-seat Barrymore’s. Also on the bill is Hamilton’s Young Rival, a band who share a touchstone in 60s Brit psychedelic blues and Vancouver beat-rock-poet C.R. Avery.

When I got through the front door around 9:30 opener Avery was on stage wearing a brown leather car coat, beatboxing his way through a tale which was, as far as I could tell, about boxing of the pugilistic variety.

This reviewer’s previous encounter with Avery was at an Ottawa Bluesfest performance where he put on a high-energy show in front of a rocking band. Solo, he had to fall back on his capable wordplay.

He got a pretty good reception from the audience - certainly better than most keytar-wielding storytellers might expect from the audience for what is, in essence, a country rock band. I enjoyed his set, but didn't think it had nearly the punch of his Bluesfest set.

He was swiftly followed by Young Rival. Once upon a time they were a sharp-dressed quartet who played a hot set at nearby dingy nightclub Babylon before departing on a brief tour as opener for a newly re-united Yardbirds. The band seems to have shed their suits along with their previous name, Ride Theory, but their mod-rock-loving sound remains. They got up to speed after the first couple of songs and put on a blistering set show.

As for the Sadies, they've put in so many hours on stage they could probably play their set in their sleep. They have a new album to draw on (as well as recent soundtrack work for the Big Daddy Roth bio), and played plenty of old favourites like ‘Rat Creek’ as well.

As usual they larded their performance with an excellent selection of covers, most of them familiar from previous shows in time, ranging from the old-time murder tune 'Pretty Polly', through to the Byrds' ‘Wasn't Born To Follow’ and the Flat Duo Jets' ‘Lucky Eye’, with Travis turning in a serviceable imitation of Dexter Romweber's surly bark.

They finished their main set with C.R. Avery returning to play harmonica on ‘Tiger Tiger’ from ‘Stories Often Told’ - train songs always go better with harmonica, don't they? Younger brother Travis seemed to be having a particularly good time stalking the stage and shredding his violin bow during ‘Pretty Polly.’

And as sagely predicted in many quarters they returned for"10 more songs!" – a concert tradition, which brought their lengthy set to a good 40 songs (albeit one including some swift surf instros). They concluded with covers of the Flamin' Groovies' ‘Shake Some Action’ and the appropriate and oft-covered Holland-Dozier-Holland number ‘Leaving Here’.

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Commenting On: Barrymore's, Ottawa, 10/11/2007 - Sadies, Young Rivals and C.R. Avery

ie London, England

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