Cowboy Junkies at McCabe’s: Reason to Believe

The scene at McCabe’s on Friday night seemed more like a midnight Mass than a pop concert: rows of people--seated and hushed--staring at a stage in a room illuminated only by candlelight. Could it be that the Cowboy Junkies, the evening’s attraction, are getting a bit precious? Thankfully, no.

If much of their audience treats them as rock’s lastest Holy Grail, lead singer Margo Timmins and the rest of the seven-piece band went about business as usual. In its hourlong performance, the Canadian group--whose music blends melancholy country and soft, soulful rock--gave the fans new reasons to believe rather than simply replay old favorites. The best of the half-dozen new songs were captivating as the tunes from the Junkies’ best-selling RCA LP.

“Escape Is So Simple” offers the accessibility and emotional purity of “Misguided Angel,” though this time the theme is about relationships moving apart rather than coming together. “Sun Comes Up, It’s Tuesday Morning,” which carries more of a lilt than past Junkies’ tunes, overflows with conflicting images and moods a la Bob Dylan. “Thirty Summers” is a compelling look at loyalties and sanity, while “Cheap Is How I Feel” is as intriguing as its title. Much like Tracy Chapman last year, the Junkies are one of those pop rarities: an act blessed with critical and commercial support. From every sign Friday, that support is extremely well placed.