Cowboy Junkies – Bruce Mason Centre: January 27, 2023

Cowboy Junkies finally performed in Auckland almost three years after their original scheduled date and despite a state of emergency being called during their set.

Well, folks, it was quite a night in Auckland. Rain was bucketing down with no let-up in sight. Sadly, Elton John’s show at Mt Smart had to be cancelled, but The Cowboy Junkies, persevered, playing two sets at the Bruce Mason Centre where the stage was conveniently located indoors.

Just getting from central Auckland to Takapuna proved to be an adventure, but thanks to the skilful driving of my friend and her mini we made it intact and before the show started…kudos also to 13th Floor photographer Brenna Jo Gotje who also braved the elements to be there.

As the late, great David Crosby sang, ‘it’s been a long time coming’.  The band was supposed to play here in May of 2020, but we all know what happened then. So finally here we are, older, if not wiser. In fact Margo Timmins would be celebrating her 62nd birthday tonight.

While cuing for drinks and watching the rain fall I did run into fans who had held on to their tickets for three years.

So, at 8:40pm, the lights went down and cheers went up as Cowboy Junkies took the stage. There are five of them tonight…Margo, Peter and Michael Timmins, Alan Anton on bass and Jeff Bird on mandolin, lapsteel, harmonica and percussion. As we would soon hear, Jeff Bird , although not an official bandmember, is the secret sauce to the Junkies’ on stage sound.

The show begins with drummer Peter Timmins tapping out a familiar beat…its David Bowie’s Five Years…and off we go.

The years have been kind to Margo’s voice and looks (am I allowed to say that?)…she sounds positively regal as the band effortlessly segues into Sweet Jane.

“It’s taken us four years to get here…I was much younger!”

This first, shorter set, is something of a sampler and next we hear The Rolling Stones’ No Expectations as featured on the Junkies’ latest album, Songs Of The Recollection.

“When I was a young girl in the 70s, I imagined I would marry one of them (The Stones), it didn’t matter which one”, Margo confesses. (Interestingly, it was Canadian first lady, Margaret Trudeau who was alleged to have had a tryst with Mick Jagger)

But back to tonight’s show…the 7-song, first set also included Neil Young’s Don’t Let It Bring You Down and the heavenly Blue Moon Revisted.

Then we are back in the foyer cuing for drinks while the city is in a State Of Emergency. They say ignorance is bliss, and tonight that certainly is the case as we prepare to enjoy another set of Cowboy Junkies songs.

Set two begins with The Things We Do To Each other  from 2018’s All That Reckoning and Margo’s voice seems easier to hear…there were grumblings from some fans that she was low in the mix.

Throughout this second set there come shout outs of ‘Happy Birthday’ from the audience that go ignored until finally, during the acoustic portion of the second set Margo mentions her birthday telling us, ‘If I have to turn 62, this is the place to do it’.

The band builds up steams after Peter and Alan return, laying down an extended groove for My Little Basquiat  and Good Friday, with Jeff Bird’s harmonica wailing beautifully.

Perhaps the centrepiece of the set was the 13 minute version of Working On A Building, where all five musicians seemed lock into a trance state.

We sang Happy Birthday to Margo after Good Friday, still oblivious to the State Of Emergency outside.

Misguided Angel closed out the set and Neil Young’s Powderfinger (a favourite of mine) was the first encore. I was in heaven. Then the night ended with Walkin’ After Midnight.

It was just a perfect night of live music that we were fortunate enough to attend. Many others were not so lucky and we hope that musicians, promoters and music fans alike come through this very tough weekend intact. Hang in there folks!

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Brenna Jo Gotje:


Cowboy Junkies Setlist:

Set 1:

  1. Five Years
  2. Sweet Jane
  3. No Expectations
  4. Don’t Let It Bring You Down
  5. Missing Children
  6. Shining Moon
  7. Blue Moon Revisited

Set 2:

  1. The Things We Do To Each Other
  2. A Common Disaster
  3. ‘Cause Cheap Is How I Feel
  4. Working On A Building
  5. Black Eyed Man
  6. A Horse In The Country
  7. Rake
  8. My Little Basquiat
  9. Dreaming My Dreams With You
  10. Good Friday
  11. Misguided Angel
  12. Powderfinger
  13. Walkin’ After Midnight

Cowboy Junkies perform in Wellington tonight (weather permitting). Click here for tickets