Surprisingly, this was Cowboy Junkies first visit to Bristol. The Trinity Centre is a converted church with a capacity of 600 and was pretty much full on a warm evening. The Junkies music has toughened up in recent years, particularly live. This means that some older songs now have a harder edge. Opening with a set mostly taken from the new album ‘All That Reckoning’, the standout songs were ‘The Things We Do to Each Other’ and ‘Sing Me a Song’.
Returning after a fresh air break – the venue was sweltering by this time – the promised set of “old stuff” included many fan favourites, rounding off with ‘Blue Moon Revisited’. The Junkies have always had a way with a cover version and tonight we got ‘Sweet Jane’, an encore of Bowie’s ‘Five Years’ and the obligatory for Canadian bands, according to Margo Timmins, Neil Young cover.
Michael Timmins is one of the great Americana guitar stylists and has developed a more blues feel to many of his solos recently. Highlight of the set was a radically different version of ‘Just Want to See’, which replaced the strings of the slightly diffident original with guitar feedback bringing a new dimension to the emotionally charged lyric. Jeff Bird was as usual on hand to add colour to the music with harmonica, guitar and mandolin. The bass and drums provide a lot of the uniqueness of the Junkies sound, Peter Timmins’ frequent use of mallets rather than sticks complements Alan Anton’s surprisingly complex bass lines to set the mood of each song. After a final encore of ‘Walking after Midnight’ they were gone leaving the hope that it won’t be another thirty years before they make it back to Bristol and that a new live album will result from all the touring they are doing.