Having now seen The Tragically Hip live nine times, I can vouch for their consistency. They're nine for nine in terms of putting on an energetic, fulfilling, quality rock show. Because they never have an off day, ranking the nine shows relies on other factors, mainly ambience, venue, playlist and vibe. This is what made last night so special.
It was my first concert at Historic Fort York and I'm forever smitten. On a crystal clear, warm night, the location was ultra convenient to get in and out of and the stage was magically framed by the city around us. The CN Tower and skyline was the back drop and the old stone fort walls rustically kept us in check. I easily found a free parking spot on Niagara Street, just West of Bathurst which had us into the Fort and out in minutes. The only shame, which Gord Downie referenced in his farewell, was the presence of the Gardiner Expressway to the South. Half way through The Sadies' set I was ready to dismantle it myself. In an orgy of visual delight, she was the pig begging to be slaughtered.
Both The Sadies and The Weakerthans were a lot of fun while I waited in the sweet sun for Das Hip. The audio was as crystal clear as the evening sky. Gord and the boys hit the stage at about 9:00pm, opening with "Don't Wake Daddy". For the next hour and forty minutes, it was pure Hip magic. Highlights were "Courage", "It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken", "38 Years Old" "At The Hundredth Meridian" and "Greasy Jungle". "At The Hundredth Meridian", already my favourite Hip song live, has never been better. Gord delivered his microphone stand monologue half way through before stepping into the vanity velocity verse. There wasn't a weak number in the set and all of Gord's rants were clearly decipherable.
All in all, I heard five songs live for the first time. "Oceans" and "The Drop Off" were great new tunes that will be on the new album, "No Threat" was just released last year, "We'll Go Too", "Sherpa", and "Don't Wake Daddy" are gems I've just missed and then there was "38 Years Old". Not only is "38 Years Old" a personal favourite from the first Hip album I ever bought, but it's the rarest of the rare in concert. According to a good source at Hipbase, it hasn't been played since 1994 1993. That's freakin' incredible! The price of admission was worth it for this song alone. We were all lucky bastards last night.
The setlist has been posted to my Tragically Hip page and I'll be updating my song statistics in a bit. I took a bunch of pictures too, and they're in this photoset. Taking into account the ambience, venue, playlist and vibe, last night's show might just rank as the greatest Hip performance I've ever attended. Wow... it was fantastic.