With the seasonal changes crawling up our sleeves and settling in for the winter, everyone is feeling some sort of blue these days. That being said, it was the perfect atmosphere for the return of Reignwolf. It had been roughly four years since Jordan Cooke, a.k.a Reignwolf last played Montreal. With an opening slot for Black Sabbath during their 2014 Bell Centre date for the 13 tour, and a spot on the Osheaga lineup that same year; fans around these parts have been hungry for more of the dirty, fuzzy blues. Accompanied by former Yelawolf guitarist Bones Owens, the intimate L’Astral got a good shakin’.
An inconspicuous demographic filled the room. It would be impossible to feel out-of-place in such a context, seeing as there was no mould to what a Reignwolf fan should look like. It’s always great to walk into those kinds of situations and see the extent of how music can really seep into different types. I digress.
Bones Owens took to the stage first, with a Nashville swagger that rumbled through multiple amplifiers. The duo had clearly put some work into their set up, as the use of an octave pedal and some clever amp configurations gave them a sound much mightier than what two people would usually sound like. The general impression given from brief internet searches was that Bones Owens was some dialled-back folk rock type of deal. People were wrong about it being dialled-back. The duo spat out their set with a vicious hop in their step. God bless those who didn’t have earplugs. With his latest single “White Lines” fresh on the market, a more in-depth internet search is highly recommended for Bones Owens.
The dust from the opening set had enough time to settle as it felt like an eternity as people waited for Jordan Cooke and company to crawl out on the stage. The amps hadn’t been turned on yet and the pedal boards were nowhere to be seen. Thinking that the show was soon to start seemed foolish.
Cut the lights, queue the intro music, and crank the fog machine. It all happened so quickly. Figures started moving through the shadows on stage. The amp lights flicked on, pedal boards plugged in, and levels quickly pulled to their sweet spots. Cut to black. The intro to “Lonely Sunday” emerges from the darkness and takes everyone out at the knees.
With the dirtiest tone my poor ears have ever heard, Reignwolf exploded into life. At any given moment, the entire band seemed to be on the edge of slipping off the edge. Sleazy goodness oozed out of amps that littered the stage. It was rock n’ roll incarnate. Even though the setlist was mostly comprised of “older” (yet unrecorded/unreleased) material; it came off fresh. Fan favourites like “Palms to the Sky” had everyone riled up. Cooke even whipped out his electric Firebird mandolin for the song appropriately named: “Mandolin Song.” Pulling out all of the stops, he even hopped behind the kit and one point to deliver his signature one-man-band guitar/drum jam.
They did a great job of playing pitch-and-catch with the crowd and keeping the show a two-way avenue the entire time. At one point, the entire band made the move to the floor. After a quick changeover to get the drum kit down, the band ripped through their first single “Are You Satisfied,” with Reignwolf taking a seat upon my shoulders for the duration of the track. It was insane. They closed the set after an encore with their latest single “Wanna Don’t Wanna.”
Even after the show was done, Cooke stayed behind their merch table until every soul had cleared the building. It was an authentic rock n’ roll music performed by genuine, and down-to-earth souls. You couldn’t ask for better after a four-year wait. Please do yourselves a favour and check this man out. A great place to dig in is the KEXP vault (link in “Palms to the Sky” section of this article). There you could find solo performances, as well as the full lineup; filmed and recorded at that great KEXP quality. Godspeed Reignwolf.
Written by Ben Cornel
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Mike Milito