Live review: Cowboy Junkies

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Cowboy Junkies

McGlohon Theatre

July 21, 2010

The Deal: It was Toronto, Canada’s own soulful and bluesy rock band Cowboy Junkies at McGlohon Theatre all by their lonesome. They are touring in support of their new release, Renmin Park, one of four albums they have produced in 18 months called the Nomad Series.

The Good: McGlohon Theatre’s 730-seat setup is very intimate and breathtaking — especially the stained-glass windows and the Byzantine dome from the previous First Baptist Church that was once located there. Its interior shape also made way for some great acoustics.

I had always loved lead vocalist Margo Timmin’s voice ever since I first heard her sing their version of Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane” off of The Trinity Session album in 1988, and I figured I was in for a treat. I was.

Margo has a ritual of having the set list and a small bouquet of flowers placed on a table next to her microphone stand to initiate the show. She has always battled a bit of stage fright, which may have explained the constant of hiding her face behind the microphone. She has had 25 years to get comfortable with her stage presence, and it showed as she would gradually move away from the mic stand and would do a meager dance as she slightly shook her hips and her head and occasionally waved her hands in the air. She enjoyed turning her back to the audience and walking to her brother Peter’s drum kit — feeling the groove while the rest of the band jammed.

The ambience was usually dark and moody but fit their set well with Margo’s haunting vocals cascading over her other brother Michael's blues-soaked slide guitar licks that was so good it clearly emoted their passion for their music which was passed on to the audience. This was the case on several songs including “Cicadas” and “Sir Francis Bacon” off the new album. “My Wild Child” and “Devil” were highlights for me as Michael Timmins had rare opportunities to get loud and proud on his six-string — coursing through four-minute blues-tinged psychedelic rock solos accompanied well by bassist Alan Anton’s deep, distorted bass playing.

They pulled off some enchanting covers as well with The Rolling Stone’s “Moonlight Mile”, and

the late Vic Chesnutt’s “Supernatural." Margo took the time after the show to do a short “meet and greet” with fans that stuck around — showing that she is not your typical rock star. Thank God.

The Bad: Nothing really, aside from Margo being so painfully humble that you could barely hear her when she addressed the crowd. However, she was often humorous in her humbleness.

The Verdict: It was a fabulous show. The venue and their style of music really complimented the other entity rather well. Older, more seasoned musical group of fans there really appreciated the performance, and the Cowboy Junkies were as good as ever.

Setlist

Cicadas

Get it

Dreaming

Stranger Here

Dark Heart

Horse in the Country

Moonlight Mile

Hold On

Sir Francis Bacon

Supernatural

Wild Child

Renmin Park

Bring You Down

Devil

Misguided Angel

Shining Moon

Powder Finger


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