The hypnotic strains of Cowboy Junkies filled the Wolf Mountain dome Friday night. The full-house crowd rocked away to sweet melodies and dynamic arrangements played selectively by the band.
Though the core group consists of lead singer Margo Timmons, her musical brothers Michael and Peter (guitar and drums) and bassist Alan Anton; cellist/guitarist Dave Henry and keyboardist Jeff Bird joined the band for the night and filled the basic Junkie sound with rich orchestration.It's not totally true to say the mix was perfect. The instruments were well-balanced, but singer Timmons' vocals needed work - volume wise.
She sang well and carried the surreal melodies of tunes such as "Lone Sinking Feeling" and "Hold On to Me," among others, but she was hard to hear. It's the way she does her thing. It's her style, and it's good, but her resonant voice lost its way through the sound board.
And when she spoke to the crowd, as shy as she is, the audience had to hold its breath to hear what she was saying. Still, the show went well.
Cowboy Junkies have a way with playing soft, anyway. They do it to gain attention - like whispering across a crowded room. Eventually, everyone will stop to see who's doing the muttering.
That's exactly what happened Friday night. Though the people were there to see and hear the band, the audience - which was composed of people mostly college-aged and over - intently listened.
Songs such as a haunting remake of Bruce Springsteen's "State Trooper," Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and the hit "Common Disaster," from the new album "Lay It Down," filled the dome with a laid-back style.
Though the songs were mostly down beat, the melodies created a comfortable mood of melancholy and nostalgia. At times, it appeared as if the band was playing a rather large night club. Other times, the musicians could have been jamming around on a back porch in the Ozarks. At any rate, the music touched all who were in attendance.
Going back to the Cowboy Junkies' debut album, "The Trinity Session," the band played the mesmerizing "Misguided Angel." Then the Timmonses, et al, fast-forwarded to "Lay It Down" and plucked out "Angel Mine," a song that completed the "Misguided Angel" storyline.
"They're still together," whispered Timmons. "And they're happy."
Probably the biggest hit with the crowd was the band's trademark remake of Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane," the song that captured the ears of the nation.
The musicality was impeccable. Tight pauses rocked the crowd into a mellow trance and programmed stage lights dramaticized the music. And to add dimension, Bird, when he wasn't filling the background with organ sustains, picked away at a mandolin.
Opening act Jude was a folksinger with a mean guitar. His vocal styles shifted from Bread to Bob Dylan to Al Stewart.
His 30-minute set featured songs such as "I'm Sorry Now" and "Mediocre." But like so many acoustic minstrels, Jude's songs sounded too much alike. It may be his style, but there were times when a yawn or two opened up.