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Cowboy Junkies

Monday, July 9; Pageant


When you go to see the Cowboy Junkies this week, pray you don't get stuck sitting in front of (or behind or anywhere in the vicinity of) the loud frat boys who act as if they're at a Robert Earl Keen concert. Or the drunken hipsters who see so much music they don't understand that you're there to hear the band, not their dreary weekend saga. (Why do people talk through shows?) As great as the Junkies are, they require sharp concentration to appreciate their tremendous lead vocalist (Margo Timms) and their multifaceted lyrics. Even with an attentive crowd, your attempts to pay attention will be complicated by the guitar-and-feedback jam sessions that overshadow many of the songs. The Junkies are plugging their recent release Open, which offers up rawer songs than their past few releases; this collection was road-tested and recorded throughout their last tour. Their Monday appearance catches them early in a summer tour, after a day's break, a variable that may affect their performance. Their shows also vary depending on the band's perception of the venue; they're likely to tone things down or hype them up according to their take on the crowd. Given the Pageant's size and space, be ready for the former (and wary of the frat boys).Open rocks louder and longer then many of the Junkies' past releases (more like Black-Eyed Man than Trinity Sessions) and is filled with moody instrumentation that narrates the album's underwater saga. Its songs -- especially "Dragging Hooks" and "I'm So Open" -- are great listening, lacing a big guitar presence with Timms' honeyed vocals to create a dreamy, submerged ambience that should please both dedicated fans and first-time spectators. Maybe it's not a great first-date concert, but Timms' familiar banter and the band's obvious pleasure in performing lighten the mood; band members are known to hang out after the show to sign autographs and pose for photos -- and surely no hipster would deign to wait around for such things. Redemptive moments, pure in their simplicity, will punctuate the concert, the pleasures of which may be far from simple but will surely gratify.