Andre Williams & The Sadies Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON June 15

Andre Williams & The Sadies Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto ON June 15
Former street dweller and drug addict Andre Williams proved there's still a lot of fight left in the old dog. Alongside his Sadies cohorts, he delivered a night of sweat-soaked, down-and-out blues rock inside of a bursting Horseshoe Tavern. Dressed to impress for one of the hottest sets on this year's NXNE schedule, the classic hustler sashayed onto the tight stage in a cool and pimpish blood-red ensemble, complete with dangling gold earrings, proceeding to share with the audience a gravelly voice made curiously endearing through no doubt years of unthinkable abuse. With his endless collection of no-luck tales of love and life, though always approached with an "I'm still here, baby" smile, Williams infected the room with bustling '60s classics like "Shake a Tail Feather" before dipping into a swinging country ditty about biracial confusion. While there was a noticeably bleak tinge to the majority of the singer's lyrics, the Sadies' bustling musical turns of rootsy Americana managed to counter all of the disheartening imagery. To that end, even the singer himself made certain that a couple of his more painfully soulful pleas to a love that did him wrong were followed by a grinning shout-out to all of the beautiful ladies in the room. Choreographed vocal harmonies and a mid-show costume change earned a few laughs from the riled-up audience, while fitting show closer "Bad Motherfucker" summed up perfectly the impression many felt of the walking representative of raw and uncut soul history.