The Sadies, In Concert Volume One

Karen Schoemer

By Karen Schoemer

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The Sadies have spent the last decade mastering a mess of genres — electrified bluegrass, surf-twang instrumentals, wan Americana balladry, call-and-response gospel — and they run the gamut on the first half of this two-disc live set, recorded in their Toronto hometown. It's impressively adept, although not the stuff of legend. Then Jon Spencer shows up.

Alt-country’s very own Last Waltz.

The former Blues Explosion/current Heavy Trash frontman opens disc two with a rousing four-minute testimonial to his friends "the Sadies-uh" that includes high-pitched woooo's, reverberated grunts, nonsense syllables, repeated exhortations for the crowd to "say 'Yeah!'" and barked asides like "it's star time," all set to a low-riding Bo Diddley beat. As if on cue, the Sadies catapult into awesomeness, ditching the genre workouts in favor of amped-up, incendiary noise. More pals materialize: Neko Case, who had the pleasure of the Sadies 'backing on her 2004 live album, The Tigers Have Spoken, lends grace to a honky-tonk chestnut, "Home"; Jayhawk Gary Louris indulges his prog-rock side on Pink Floyd's "Lucifer Sam."

By the time Jon Langford leads a sing-along of the Mekons '"Memphis, Egypt," the Sadies have achieved the coveted title of Best Band in the World at That Moment. Phew — alt-country doesn't need its own Last Waltz anymore.