There's something special about a live performance by The Tragically Hip. I saw them for the eighth time last night, and here's the synopsis you've waited so patiently for.
The Joel Plaskett Emergency - The Joel Plaskett Emergency opened for The Hip when I last saw them on Canada Day, but I didn't catch a note thanks to the brutal service at the Molson Amphitheatre. This time, I entered the venue without having to wait and was comfy in my excellent seats twenty minutes before the Joel Plaskett Emergency took the stage.
I was eager to sample this band live after reading about their success at the annual Music Industry Association Of Nova Scotia Music Awards last week. Plaskett's the guy who fronted Thrush Hermit back in the mid-90s, a band that briefly rode the Sloan wave to fleeting success. All in all I liked the performance. It's a crisp sound reminiscent of U2 with several overtly Canadian references thrown in to boot. I won't predict Joel Plaskett will be the next Sam Roberts, but I've heard far, far worse.
The Venue - Of all the places I've seen the Tragically Hip, the ACC is probably my least favourite. During a Hip show, I like to get lost under an open sky. I want to be able to stare up at the stars, yell at the gods, breathe in the aura of a live show outdoors. At the ACC, none of this is possible. This isn't specific to the Hip, but a preference I have for all concerts. I prefer my concerts take place outside. I realize this isn't an option in Toronto on November 27th.
I had a serious issue with how bright the ACC remained during the Hip's performance. There was enough light for me to read by, and that's unacceptable. I was on the floor, only 20 rows back of the stage, and I kept hoping the venue would turn out a few lights. It was actually a lot darker for the Joel Plaskett Emergency than it was for headliners. I like it nice and dark during a concert, last night wasn't nearly dark enough.
The Hip - From the opening of "Vaccination Scar" through the brilliant "Blow At High Dough", it was a typical Hip show and that's a good thing. That's a very good thing. Other than perhaps Pearl Jam, there's no band as consistently brilliant live as this one. We got the big hits like "New Orleans Is Sinking", "Little Bones" and "Courage" along with the two tunes I now look most forward to at Hip shows, "At The Hundredth Meridian" and "Bobcaygeon". When performed live, Gord speeds up the "If I die of vanity, promise me" part of "At The Hundredth Meridian" so that it's at least twice as fast as the studio version. The way this is done really pumps me up, it's like a drug that shoots through my veins in electrifying fashion. Bobcaygeon is just an amazing tune with the lyric "That night in Toronto" that always garners the largest cheer of the night from the thousands of Torontonians in attendance.
Entering last night's show, there were four tunes I had heard played every time I've attended a Hip concert. Those were "At The Hundredth Meridian", "Grace, Too", "New Orleans Is Sinking" and "Poets". I heard all four again last night. Interestingly enough, I didn't hear a single song last night that I hadn't heard before. That means I'll have to wait a little longer to hear "Cordelia" and "Flemenco".
The complete setlist is already here along with the updated song statistics. Another fabulous night courtesy of Das Hip.