My First Series-The Tragically Hip-Woodstock 99 Bootleg

This is part of my first series and it is the first bootleg I purchased, and the first I reviewed. The quality of the sound is top rate, however being recorded by an amateur, there are some recording issues. It is almost like it was recorded by one the sound guys at the show, and we unfortunately get to hear the headphone chatter between the sound guys and engineers. Since there was no official release by The Hip, this is as good as it gets.

For those that know The Hip discography, we skipped some, but there is a method to my madness. All will be revealed by the end of this series.

Woodstock 99 was a huge black eye on music back in the day. It will always be remembered as one of the worst festivals of all time. Most of the music was good, but the greed, deplorable conditions, and lack of security made for a nightmare of epic proportions. Imagine 250,000 pissed off people re-enacting Lord of the Flies complete with looting, rapes, assaults, destruction and fires. Lots and lots of fires.

I remember watching the MuchMusic coverage of the event. Ed the sock and Sook-Yin Lee broadcast live at the event.

The Tragically Hip performed on the morning of Saturday July 24th 1999. The crowd had a large Canadian contingent, as most Americans do not know who The Hip are. All of the reports I read from the event described the Hip performance that day as one of the better acts at Woodstock 99. My bootleg copy only lists 11 songs, even though it was a 12 song set. The cd fails to list song 5, Springtime in Vienna.

Grace Too. It seems like something is missing as soon as this song starts. Ok, there is no bass. Part way through the song it kicks in. It must have been a technical glitch. Gord Downie makes up numerous rants, “I’m getting a message from beyond. we crossed when the lake was frozen. Like exiles. From the Canada’s of your soul.”

Fully Completely. This sounds so much better with bass. This is a great bass song too. No rant needed in this song. When you have lyrics like ” I ponder the endlessness of the stars. Ignoring said same of my father. Either it’ll move me. Or it’ll move right through me. Fully. Completely.”

Fire Works. Listening to this and watching the video clip I got a flashback to Stompin’ Tom. Gord Downie grabs a guitar for this one, and the way his stance is, the pitch of his voice, the way his face looks, and the pronunciation of some of his words in a down east accent. They were all Stompin’ Tom trademarks for me. All he needed were cowboys boots and an old board.

Gift Shop. The rant about going down the Grand Canyon and having to gut the burrows to stay warm happens before the song even starts. Usually Gord doesn’t go off on a tangent until halfway though a song. Great guitar work, but the only thing is the background vocals are a little off.

Springtime In Vienna. Starts with Gord doing some goofy dancing. Great musicianship on this one. Firing on all cylinders. I was happy to find out the labelling was wrong and this highly underrated song was actually on the set.

Bobcaygeon. I love the line “Coulda been the Willie Nelson. Coulda been the wine” Slower tune that just oozes Canadiana. It makes me think of sitting around a campfire, having a few beers and then someone shows up with a guitar and starts playing this. A really feel good song.

Nautical Disaster. Gord starts off by saying “This is a Gordon Lightfoot song(it isn`t). And then“I will remain motionless, if you need a target.“ I laughed when I heard him say that. I had read that some assholes were throwing stuff on the stage all weekend. This song is about the sinking of the Bismarck in WW2, and the sailors deadly fate. Another Hip history lesson.

Poets. Robby Baker has the guitar tuned a little different at the start of this song. It sounds more Angus Young like, but I like the subtle difference. It slowly morphs back into the normal sound of this song. Great song. A little ad lib lyrics, a lot of awesome music.

Courage. Again the guitar sounds a little different. I had read the Robby Baker changed from Les Paul to a Reverend guitar in the 90’s. Maybe that is the subtle sound I am hearing. Part way through the song Gord Downie lays down along the tracks at the front of the stage where the mobile camera rides on. He says `Tie me up. It`s adds to the drama.“ I laughed again. Then he was riding the microphone stand like a chopper. He is quite possibly the goofiest, and funniest lead singer I have had the pleasure of seeing many times.

Ahead by a Century. Unique song in which Gord Downie and Robbie Baker play acoustic, and Paul Langlois kicks in near the end of the song with his electric. The background lyrics are a little off on this one as well.

New Orleans is Sinking. This is the Hip fans wait for during a live performance because we know Gord will go off on a rant of epic proportions. Different guitar tone again. Gord throws in some stuff from his solo stuff. “It`s not the end of the world of course. It`s just a Vancouver divorce.“ This version was good, but not nearly as awesome as the Killer Whale Tank version, so I will include that here instead.

Fire in The Hole. Gord kept repeating It`s the song I hate at the start of this song, then went into full on rambling. He reminded me of Murdoch on the A team. Gord needed B.A. to come on stage and say “What you talkin` `bout fool“

This bootleg suffers from poor quality that would have been edited out, and some background singing that was a little off. But overall The Hip put on a great show. The rants, lyrics, and the sound were all awesome.

For the performance itself I would rate as 9/10 but for the bootleg cd

7.5/10

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