Sunday evening at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Cowboy Junkies lead singer Margot Timmons joked several times that the band had no happy songs to perform - even on Mother's Day. "After all these years, you'd think we'd have something happy to sing about," she quipped to the audience's laughter.
The Junkies wore black and played sad songs for over two hours - including a fifteen-minute break. Margot was joined on stage by her brothers Peter (drums) and Michael (guitar), along with bassist Alan Anton and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Bird.
Set Number 1 mainly consisted of cover songs, including deep tracks from Neil Young ("Don't Let It Bring You Down"), The Rolling Stones ("No Expectations"), and David Bowie ("Five Years:), as well as the band's 1988 hit version of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane." They closed the second set with "Blue Moon" and ended the encore set with a bluesy version of Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight."
The group's lineup has remained unchanged since the release of their first album in 1986. Even though the band's core consists of three siblings, this is a remarkable level of consistency. They sound as good as they did when I first discovered their music decades ago. Michael's guitar and Margot's singing combine in an ethereal mix that hypnotizes the audience. Peter’s drumming is subtler than most band – he favors brushes over drumsticks on most songs, which complements the haunting melodies perfectly. And Bird showed the ability to make a mandolin sound like an electric guitar on one song and like an oboe on the next.
This evening's show was the final concert of their current tour before they all returned to Toronto.
The songs were sad, but the audience went away happy.