Monday, July 12, 2004

Cowboy Junkies Cover "Helpless"

Cowboy Junkies concert photo by Thrasher

Last night at Wolf Trap Amphitheater, in the Virginia suburbs outside Washington, DC, The Cowboy Junkies and Shawn Colvin split the bill, allowing equal time for a mellow evening of acoustic folk and smokey, simmering, sultry jams.

And, The Cowboy Junkies covered Neil Young's "Helpless" to close out the show. Margo Timmins introduced the song by saying this is by a "great fellow Canadian songwriter". Delivered in the Junkies characteristically slow burn style, or as washingtonpost.com writer Geoffrey Himes says: "her deep, smoky alto can cap off a conversational phrase by holding out a note with enough vibrato and throaty yearning to cast a mesmerizing spell." "Helpless" also gave the band members including the Timmins brothers and Jaro Czerwinec's accordion and Jeff Bird's mandolin each a chance to solo & shine as they had all evening.

Oh, and the rest of the show? The Cowboy Junkies are out on the road this summer on the "Long Journey Home" tour supporting their new album One Soul Now, which they played several tunes from.

We even got a Grateful Dead cover, "To Lay Me Down." On the Cowboy Junkies Discussion Board Poartes posted a
setlist which included: Crescent Moon, Get It, Long Journey, The Stars of Our Stars, Notes, Hunted, Anniversary Song, Misguided Angel, Caution, A Horse in the Country, Slide, Trinity, Cause Cheap Is How I Feel, Oregon Hill, To Live Is To Fly, Pity.

I must admit that it is somewhat humorous Margo's stage patter about how her favorite songs are depressing, how she gets depressed, and so on. Yet, surrounded by flowers on stage, her brothers and adoring fans it seems hard to imagine her depression.

shawn colvin concert photo by Thrasher

The show opened with Shawn Colvin. Apparently, Colvin & CJ split the bill, each performing for about 90 minutes. Shawn performed a mix of newer and older material including "Sonny" and some tunes from Whole New You. Shawn gave us tuning demonstration about midway that probably went longer than most folks needed. But, all in all, a great double-bill concert at one of the finest outdoor sheds in the country.

An interesting footnote on the tour from the band's Tour Diary regarding the Philadelphia (July 9, 2004) concert:

    "Tonight was about as perfect as it gets. Great audience, excellent sound and we all delivered. It was a fantastic night of music for both us and the audience. The Instant Live people were suppose to be here tonight to tape the show, but their van and all of their equipment was stolen this morning from the parking lot of their hotel. I think the heist was the start of a taper conspiracy to rid the concert scene of this growing trend. We might reschedule another Instant Live date.

    The one negative note on the night was the fact that the concert wasn't sold out. We have never failed to sell out this venue and, more troubling, it seems that lower than hoped for attendance seems to be the trend. All four shows this week were under-attended despite the fact that three of the four shows had Sean Colvin as a co-bill headliner. We were warned by our booking agent at the start of the tour that the concert business was in shambles. It is still a little disconcerting to be staring at all those empty seats. Hopefully this is a passing trend. With the industry experiencing declining CD sales and now declining concert gates, things are looking a little uncertain for us old rockers. Oh well, all that we can do is make sure that we play the best shows that we are capable of and that those who do attend the concerts, leave feeling elevated, inspired and completely satisfied that it was a few hours well spent."


Hmmm, "a taper conspiracy to rid the concert scene of this growing trend." I don't think so. More like a desperate move by the record labels but definitely not a "taper conspiracy". As for the "concert business in shambles", maybe the high cost of tickets is catching up with the industry and fans are voting with their feet???

A final footnote to the Wolf Trap show was that the exit music played over the PA was Neil's "Unknown Legend".

See Blogcritics review for a less "Neil-centric" version.


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