The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts

Cowboy Junkies

Date & Venue September 28, 2016, at 8pm | Shadbolt Centre Lounge, 6450 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby

Reviewer Sharon Cairney

The Lounge doesn’t have assigned seating, so I end up in a seat completely sideways to the small stage and only three metres away from it. This allows me an incredibly close-up view of Margo Timmins’ profile throughout the evening.

When the Cowboy Junkies come out on the stage, it’s the same core members as the original 1985 band: Margo Timmins doing the vocals, Michael Timmins on guitar, Peter Timmins on drums, and Alan Anton on bass. Tonight’s guest musician, Jeff Bird, adds variety to the group by playing the mandolin and harmonica. Over the years this band has been known for their sad songs.

Cowboy Junkies open the first set with “Thousand Year Prayer” and continue from there into a jazzy version of “Little Basquiat.” On this song, Timmins’s voice is completely mesmerizing. The song is so hypnotic that it’s similar to those 60s psychedelic trances played by The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

By the time the band gets to the seventh song, “He Will Call You Baby”, Timmins is shaking her head back and forth, deep into the groove of the slow-downed rhythm. The instruments and her voice both seem heavy. So on a bleak song like this, I find Bird’s harmonica to be the one bright sound that stands out.

The second set features “Shining Moon”, “Bea’s Song”, and a bluesy, but vibrant, version of “Walking After Midnight.” At the end of set two, the fans give the band a standing ovation, which brings Cowboy Junkies back for an encore.

The very last song of the evening is “Those Final Feet.” Timmins sings, “No sense wasting the time you got, you got to walk down every road. No sense pretending that you’re what you’re not, when you got to shoulder every load.” When she finishes singing, Timmins sincerely thanks the audience for coming out tonight.

Cowboy Junkies have been touring small venues all over North America, Europe and Japan, so they have loyal fans around the world. These fans must appreciate that Cowboy Junkies have stayed true to their sad songs over the last twenty-five years.

But as I leave The Lounge, I decide to find a few happy songs on the radio for the drive back home.

© 2016 Sharon Cairney