We put a few miles in after the gig last night to lessen the pain of the three hour drive from Manchester to London. We pulled in to London around midday and wound our way through the streets to the Barbican Center that sits in the middle of the city. The Barbican is an ugly child of the 70’s, an example of modern architecture at its finest/worst, you decide. The theatre itself is quite beautiful and a very prestigious place to play. We booked this gig many months ago, in the hope that the long lead time and playing in such a high profile venue would help get the word out. Our gamble paid off and we had a huge crowd tonight.
I never left the building today. We drove in to the underground parking lot and I hunkered down in our dressing room until gig time. I love London, but I’m too tired to explore and it’s just miserable outside. It was an odd gig tonight. We all felt that we played well, but we had difficulty raising the show to the level that we know we can achieve and on the occasions that we did reach those heights we had trouble maintaining. It wasn’t a bad show, it was just a lot of work. The audience seemed a little bit lost during the first set of all Nomad Series songs, but really came alive during the second set, they were a generous and appreciative bunch. All in all a good night…sometimes you reach for the stars and have to just settle for a moon or two….and there is no crime in that.
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Well I for one had a fantastic night – I do know where you are coming from though, the Barbican sounds superb as a venue, but the audiences there are often a little stuffy! I saw Teddy Thompson there once and shouted out a few times from the balcony to try and get some banter going, as Teddy was often talking to himself and was met with frosty stares from the 'suit and tie' brigade on the seats around me! Barbican audiences are always like that, but if you heard the murmurings of approval as I left the hall and couple that with the fact I didn't see anyone leaving early, then you put on a great show guys – there were very few empty seats too.
The sound deserves special mention too as it was exceptional. Have fun on the rest of the tour guys and safe journey home . . . your London show rocked in my head ;)
My first CJ concert after stumbling across a small-print notice in the Guide on Wednesday. I was surprised to see the audience was mostly older people. It was muted in the sense that polite attention is quiet and still. Is it that sometimes people need encouragement to loosen up a bit? Or that the venue is prestigious and they felt the need to "behave". Or the weeks of cold and ice had taken their toll. The seats were comfortable. Dunno.
I liked the idea of two parts to the concert. I heard Nomad 2 & 3 albums first and then went back to listen to the older stuff so I enjoyed the first part as much as the second. Several people around me murmured their approval of the newer work too. Person next to me asked about any new music reccommends to try, so they were'nt all fossils on a nostalgia trip.
The sound was great from where I sat. Good balance and volume. The best concert sound I've heard in a long time. Pleased to get to see/hear live after listening on CD.
Hope Warwick makes a warm leaving. Thanks.
Sorry to hear you have reservations about last night's performance. From our side of the stage it was incredibly forceful. The sound was awsome, and I think maybe the audience became drawn in and totally focussed on the quality. Next to us were 4 guys who were listening to CJ music for the first time and they were blown away. I am sure there was a curious element in the audience who became converts.
Guys, your show amazing last night, really enjoyed it,both new and old material. I have written a little review on my blog. I was with my partner who is not such a big CJ fan as I, and another friend who sat elsewhere and we were all in praise.
The Barbican is a bit of a monstrosity but the sound is fantastic. I suppose I am one of those people who doesn't shout from his seat but I find most London audiences seem reserved (especially if seated), it doesn't necessarily mean they are not enjoying it. I thought the audience was quite mixed agewise, I was a little surprised, but obviously people younger than my 45 yold self are still discovering you.
Here's to next time !
Funny to hear about your mixed feelings. It was my first time watching CJ live and I definitely enjoyed it — it was really a fantastic gig. But I must admit that I prefer to appreciate quietly the music when it is in a theatre setting.
And I agree: Barbican's architecture is indeed horrendous.
From our perspective in the audience we loved it – and while on CD I've found the Nomad work a little hit and miss, live and with Margo's contextualisation it hung together a lot more for me.
Sure having old favourites run through is great – and "'Cause Cheap is How I Feel" really had hairs standing up on the back of my neck, but wouldn't have missed the first half for the world.
I love the Barbican as a venue – and very much fall down on the 'love' side of the equation asrchitecture wise – but as an acoustic environment could have sat and listened for hours. That said, somewhere with more standing up might have suited the more 'rock' bits of the set – maybe somewhere like the Roundhouse is a more natural hunting ground?
Overall though a fantastic evening. Have wanted to see you guys perform since becoming an avid listener in my early 90s college days – delighted to have got to do so – and really hope to see you again.
I had hope The Cowboy Junkies would play their 1991 cover of The Grateful Dead's, 'To Lay Me Down'. They didn't, but that was the one single, but minor disappointment of the evening.
The venue, normally the reserve of Classical, Jazz and World Music performers, was a truly wonderful place to experience the emotive vibe of The Junkies on a cold, gloomy Friday night in January.
The cultured audience were mature,may have seemed subdued but where a lot more appreciative than they showed, particularlly after the interval, which was also a nice touch
But for this recovering drug addicted alcoholic, (4.6 years if you're interested) I was particularly touched by Margo the lead vocalist drinking a cup of tea on stage and describing their songs as 'not really happy'. Ironic then, that I felt overwhelmed by music and songs that reached the soul, and left me spiritually uplifted
Maybe one day I will again experience The Junkies at the Barbican. I hope I'll see them perform 'To Lay Me Down', anywhere. But where ever, and if ever I see the Junkies play, I hope I'm sober and clean enough to experience such pure, natural talent that perform with love in their hearts
I really enjoyed the gig – the sound mix was amazing and I thought Margo introduced the new songs very well. It was good to have each album identified so we had an idea how they differed. Lots of people rushed out in the interval and snapped up the box set so don't be too hard on yourselves! The second half was also well judged – "Cheap is how I feel" is one of my favourites, so I was excited to hear that. My friend was also pleased to get "Common Disaster". The Barbican can be a bit sedate but you will not get better acoustics anywhere. I also thought the gig had an intimate feel which really drew us in. I saw The Cowboy Junkies many years ago at the Shepherd's Bush Empire and almost fainted in a crush so this time I was happy just to be able to sit and soak up the music rather than have to be helped to the front by strangers!
CJ, You played a great show, I'm surprised that you found it the way you did, from our side it was simply fabulous, as always! Great to split into two sets too, the Nomad Series is such a complete set of works you could easily have filled the whole evening with just that, but it is always great to hear your early songs too, 'working on a building' being always welcome, especially when played 'dirty'! You all have the remarkable gift of being able to really wind it up and rock out – long may that continue!
Sound wise, I'm sorry to say i disagree with above replies, I don't know the Barbican well enough to know whether the PA was to blame, or that the engineer couldnt tell, but there was no top end! Not wanting to sound critical, and please don't take this as a negative, but I really wanted to hear more HF, drop Margo's levels a bit, mic Pete's drums a bit closer, (the nuances were lost), and pull up the drums slightly. (BTW I'm not going deaf :-))! ) Maybe, this perhap's was contributing to the muted feel you had?? We were sat dead cetntre, half height, and my wife passed comment at half time.. BUT, I still love hearing you when you are in town, and always will, and Margo, you are still so sexy!!
Greatly enjoyed Friday night as always. London audfiences can be a bit reserved / blase and while the Barbican Hall devivered great sound and sightlines, those comfy seats probably contributed to rather subdued atmosphere. Which isn't to say that people didn't enjoy it, those around me certainly seemed to.
I'm not sure what the ideal London venue for the CJs would be; having seen them at Shepherds Bush Empire, Festival Hall, Albert Hall and twice at the Union Chapel. The Albert Hall probably worked best, with it's mixture of seated and standing and no bars in the arena which keeps the chatter level down.
I'd been really looking forward to hearing more of the Nomand series live and wasn't dissapointed, a pretty perfectly picked setlist I thought. Don't be apologetic about it, its' a great body of work. Part two wasn't just a 'greatest hits' set but a reminder of how many fatastic songs there are in the back catalogue. Working on a Building and the sublime acoustic set being highlights for me.
Left with my boxed set and a smile on my face.
i thoroughly enjoyed the junkies ,once again. i believed the audience had pre-conceived ideas about what was in store,living in the past! it took a while for the audience to get involved,as most had not listened to nomad series,more of interest of the past glory!! Once again the junkies did not surprise me after the fifth time i've seen them live,always impressive!! Let them prosper,it was supurb. Many thanks guys!
As one of the 'older people' who made up a good percentage of the audience, we may have sat on our hands a little but that doesn't mean we weren't enjoying the evening to the full. And my 14 year old daughter enjoyed it likewise – especially when you struck up the introduction to 'Horse in the Country'. Our Song, she trilled, delighted.
Sorry you've had such crap weather; this morning the sun's shining and you're gone. Sounds a bit like a Cowboy Junkies song!
Brilliant performance! I have most CJ albums including the Nomad series but live the songs were even more beautiful. My wife and I travelled from Wales to the concert in pretty poor weather but it was well worth the journey. I will definitely travel to see you in concert again.
We've been going to your concerts for a long time, and this was a beautiful evening – Margo's voice and your music have been in our heads since Friday evening so we've spent the weekend listening to you again. I don't think the Barbican is quite the right venue for you – too formal and clinical somehow, without any quirky character, though it's a lovely hall with great sound, and this may have made some kind of interaction with the audience difficult. But you are too hard on yourselves – it was a great evening. Shepherd's Bush Empire suited you well, and we went to an unforgettable concert of yours at the Beacon Theatre in NY in about 1990. Can't wait for you to come back.
My third gig with you and once again fantastic. I was at the Passionkirche in Berlin in 2011 too and I admit that it was more intense. Same Music, different enegy. But my hometown Aarhus, Denmark was a revelation. Come to Denmark again, please.
Perhaps "mesmerized" might have been a good description of the crowd? This is the second UK venue I have heard CJ play- the other being at Manchester University several years ago. May be a coincidence, but both audiences seemed very attentive, trying to digest the lyrics- which are as wonderful as the music- and become absorbed in the experience. Much preferred over a few of the US audiences where I've endured distractions such as someone laying out a jalapeño onion horseradish sub on their lap for dinner, serial urinaters, bottle clinkers, and talkers. The Nomad Series is fantastic! More flowering branches on such a diverse musical tree. Thanks to Margo for letting me tell her how much I appreciate "Flirted With You All My Life". So poignant as my friends and loved one pass on… Yes, would be difficult to perform without a piano on stage, but what a song!
Have to admit I wasnt sure what to expect from a CJ gig. My memories are associated with the early stuff but splitting the gig into two sets worked well. I am enjoying the Nomad Series but it was nice to hear some of the older songs I really wanted to hear live. And I got four that I really wanted to hear so I felt spoilt.
The Barbican as a venue is horrible but I thought the theatre and sound were great. To be honest I could listen to you guys in a pub back room and still enjoy it. I have been to a fair few gigs in my time but sitting and chilling out listening was just the best. I loved the atmosphere.
I can now cross you off my "top five bands in the world to see live" bucket list but if you came back I wouldnt hesitate in getting a ticket and seeing you again.