The high, lonesome sounds of the Blue Shadows cut through the swirl of noises at the Exhibition outdoor theatre Monday night.
The Vancouver-based quartet, featuring the dazzling twin harmonies of Jeffrey Hatcher and Billy Cowsill, were making their third visit to the city. They held their own against the obvious distractions.
Hatcher has long abandoned his Springsteen aspirations to concentrate on what he does best: provide a ringing guitar accompaniment and high harmonies with his cohort, Cowsill.
Cowsill, who spent untold years searching for a like-minded musical collaborator, has hit the jackpot with his partnership with Hatcher. Together the pair and their exquisite harmonies evoke memories of the Everly Brothers in their prime.
When he wants, the lanky and angular Cowsill, who looks like he attended the Keith Richard school of grooming, ups the emotional level with a plaintive cry that captures the intensity more honestly than half the hunk in hats currently riding the country roller coaster.
And when Hatcher steps up to the microphone and chips in, the results are marvelous.
The no-frills, 45-minute set – the first of two the band were scheduled to perform Monday – had a good time feel from an innocent age. It was almost as if the Blue Shadows just jumped out of a time machine from the 1950s, added a dash of ‘90s energy and put the pedal to the metal.
When drummer Jamie Johnson and bassist Barry Muir left the stage for a brief acoustic set by Cowsill and Hatcher, the pair again showcased their harmonies especially on the song A Thousand Roads.
Such was the power of the two voices that they overcame the obvious acoustic imperfections at the outdoor theatre. When the band broke from their original material to dip into some golden oldies, it wasn’t a country tune they chose to do, but an old Motown number, You Really Got A Hold On Me, from Smoky Robinson. It was given a distinctive, lonesome, twangin’ spin.
The Blue Shadows have mixed the old with the new to create a fresh, vibrant sound.