The Sadies Carried On in Montreal

La Sala Rossa, February 11

BY Stephan BoissonneaultPublished Feb 16, 2023

Last summer it seemed possible that the Sadies would hang up their hats, guitars and stand up bass forever — but during their Taverne Tour set at La Sala Rossa in Montreal, they proved they're still very much here, just in a different shape than before.

No one would fault them if they had decided to retire. Singer-guitarist Dallas Good — who unexpectedly passed almost exactly a year ago — was a force to be reckoned with, an artist a who some would call a songwriting genius and the kind of guy who would take the time post-show to chat old rock n' roll LPs with some 14-year-old kid, giddy to be seeing the Sadies for the first time.

Good was a stalwart in the Canadian music scene, a beacon of hope. You could call him the Canadian version of Roger McGuinn, and the Sadies his Byrds. It's difficult to fathom how you could continue the band without him, but Sean Dean, Mike Belitsky and Good's brother Travis did, carrying Good's torch with rock n' roll grace. 

Before the Taverne Tour set there was a bit of commotion at the doors — another musician, who'd put on his own debaucherous performance one night prior, was told by security that he was barred from the venue. However, he somehow managed to get to the front of the stage before the curtain dropped and the Sadies started the show with "Stop and Start," an uplifting ode about beginning again off their latest (10/10) album Colder Streams

Travis played Dallas's parts and his own, taking on the bulk of vocal duty with a bit of backup from the rest of the band. The feeling of Dallas's absence ran deep, especially from crowd members pointing out the photo backdrop of him that was hanging behind the Sadies during the set.

Many of the Sadies' songs are about death and accepting its inevitability, but live, a track like Colder Streams' "More Alone" hits even harder. You could see watery eyes in the crowd when the lyrics "I paid my respects to a close friend I lost yesterday" were sung. Tears not only for Dallas, but anyone lost. Things never stayed heavy for long however, with the band inviting Daniel Romano and his Outfit on stage for a surprise jolt of guitar wizardry as Travis and Romano played against one another. 

Save for two or three songs, the band played every song from Colder Streams, making for an emotionally charged, transcendent show. There was positivity in the air; those who'd seen the Sadies a dozen times and those who were witnessing them for the first time gathered together in the warmth of the music. Generational differences melted away in the rock 'n' roll din, and everyone was in shambles when the band ripped into rockabilly barn burner "Lay Down Your Arms."

It's hard to know if the Sadies will continue after they've finished the Colder Streams tour. But watching them on stage together — weaving their magic and surrounded by fans and friends — you get the feeling that these guys will play until they no longer can; they'll continue to brush off the sweat, blood, and tears until it's time to lay the instruments down. And for that, we thank them. 

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