Published Jul 16, 2012The best kept secret in Canadian rock, at the moment, is the musical resurgence of Cowboy Junkies. Of course, artists like Grimes and the Weeknd provide sexier fodder, but the truth is that the middle-aged quartet have released four albums in the last three years that come off just as inventive and experimental.
Opening with "Wrong Piano" from their 2011 Vic Chesnutt covers LP, Demons, the Junkies showed the early evening crowd that this would not be your typical greatest-hits set. Remaining seated throughout the performance, guitarist Michael Timmins and long-time mandolin player Jeff Bird played more like Thurston Moore and Peter Buck than any of their waning contemporaries.
Concurrently, when the Timmins clan got around to familiar territory like "A Common Disaster" and commanding covers of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane" and Neil Young's "Don't Let iI Bring You Down," vocalist Margo managed to stretch and reshape her melodies, building them around wordless moans and moody exhales.
In the end, the band's "difficult" stage demeanour proved a bit too muggy for the audience, but the fulfilled look on the Cowboy Junkies' faces proved the performance to be, nonetheless, a roaring success.