by Nilabjo Banerjee
Horseshoe Tavern celebrated its 66th year of existence with three raging nights of Matt Mays and I took on the first night.

There was a decent crowd in time for the opener, Ladies of the Canyon. The Montreal-based female band, whose moniker is inspired by a Joni Mitchell album, dropped few jaws opening with a capella harmonies of “She Crossed The River”. Most of the set featured songs from their sophomore release Diamond Heart. Whether it was the retro attires, the highlight was Jasmine Bleile’s leopard-print top, or singing songs about ‘sex, drugs & rock’n roll’, these ladies were bringing the 70s back to life. Taking a break from the banging guitar solos, the four-piece excelled in the mellower jams as well, ending the set with “People of the Sun”, a poignant tune dedicated to neglect of Aboriginal Canadians.

Presence yielding excitement from the ladies and dudes alike, Matt Mays (and his beautiful beard) upped the decibels of rock n’ roll to 11. Recently having finished an acoustic tour, Mays was cherishing the opportunity to be loud. And the packed house wasn’t complaining! Backed by a full band, including the Fonzi look-alike guitarist Adam Baldwin, skinny tie & suspenders rocking Mays played songs from his stellar five album catalogue, including the last release Coyote. The encore featured a surprise duet with the beautiful Whitney Rose. The exhaustive set-list left minimal time for banter, except a mention of Rob Ford ‘being a dick’. Thankfully, that was brief.

Witnessing Mays unleash his inner rock beast is an experience unmatched. Full of raw energy and exemplary guitar chops, Matt Mays has certainly evolved into a rock god. The proof is in the beard.