Many music fans deliberately time their arrival at a venue to avoid the support band….big mistake tonight. John Murry will hopefully become well known for his wonderful album The Graceless Age and you good people should all buy it now. Well after you’ve read this. He played most of that album and the highlight was a clearly emotional John stripping off the guitar and singing ‘Little Coloured Balloons’ – a song with very little comedic relief shall we say.
Cowboy Junkies sound much as they’ve sounded these last 25 years: inventive guitar work from Michael Timmins, supple and subtle rhythm section and Margo Timmins’ beautiful, husky and world weary vocals. They start with lengthy blues number ‘Working On A Building’ and that was followed by old favourite ‘Cause Cheap Is How I Feel’ from Caution Horses.
Margo then explained that as a working band they had product to sell and described the ‘Nomad’ project which led to 4 albums being recorded in 18 months. One is inspired by Michael’s stay in China, one is heavier and denser than usual, one is a laid back and beautiful album of ballads and one is an album of Vic Chestnutt covers! The band play a batch of songs from the albums and they all sound wonderfully varied. Jeff Bird adds greatly to the sound they have as he adds harmonica, mandolin, percussion and additional guitar….in some songs there are oriental shadings, and other songs are pure Delta Blues. The best of the new tracks are back to back: ‘Late Night Radio’ and ‘Damaged From The Start’ which is simply beautiful.
The band then go back in time and play ‘Shining Moon’ from very first album Whites Off Earth Now. Its harmonica solos are stunning and the song sounds as fresh as ever. The last songs include more covers: ‘Lungs’ by Townes Van Zandt, ‘Sweet Jane’ by the Velvet Underground and their unique take on ‘Blue Moon’. The musicians are mainly family (brother Peter drums) and their ease and comfort with each other and the material shows again and again. They are beyond tight…they play like they are a professional, working band.
The enccore starts with the inevitable ‘Misguided Angel’ and then ends with a cover of Neil Young’s ‘Don’t Let It Bring You Down’ which is wonderfully evocative.
So not much change really, but I suppose that’s to miss the point of the band. They are a group of musicians who play together almost daily and the medium they dip into is country, folk, blues and world music. There was never going to be a dubstep interlude. The venue was perfect: grand, solid, well made – just like the band.
Check out almost any of their material but to narrow it down I recommend: ‘Misguided Angel’, ‘Damaged From The Start’, ‘Sun Comes Up It’s Tuesday Morning’. Like those and there is a whole lot more.