Well now the cat is out of the bag. This was why the series was not in order. I wanted to delay the Fully Completely review until the day of the concert. The Hip are the band I have seen more than any other. I lost count. I am not one of those people that follows a band around the world, although if I ever win the lottery I might be. Ever since the late 80’s though I have been a huge Hip fan, and they seem to be one of those bands that almost every Canadian likes. Back in my youth it would be no problem getting a group of girls and guys to go to a Hip concert. I think I personally only ever knew one guy that didn’t like the Hip, and he is kind of a loudmouth asshole, so his opinion didn’t matter to me. Besides he is a New England Patriots fan, so he obviously has no accounting for taste.
When my then girlfriend (now wife) and I had just started dating, I invited her up to Barrie where I was going to college to see The Hip at Molson Park. One problem. I left the ticket purchase up to my roommate. Basically it was like Bubbles giving his money to Ricky to buy Rush tickets. The outcome was the same. The city of Barrie at the time had the largest quotient of strip clubs per capita of any city I can recall, and he had to go past about 3 of them on the way to the ticket booth. Needless to say he didn’t make it. I’m sure he had fun with a wad of $5 bills an inch thick, but I didn’t get my tickets. I also didn’t find out until the day before my new girlfriend and her friend were coming up for the concert. I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks, and didn’t want her to back out. This was shaping up for an awkward conversation, especially since they drove for 2 hours to go to see The Hip.
It turns out there was also an end of year party going on as well, so I gave them the option of going to the party or trying to find tickets for The Hip. They said the party was fine, so we went there and had a blast. I always vowed after that experience that I would do whatever it took to see The Hip, and my wife was usually up for that. Most times she isn’t into the music I like, and vice versa, but something about The Hip bridges whatever musical differences people have.
I have seen The Hip in small, intimate setting with less than 100 others(perhaps more on that at a later date), and large outdoor concerts with 100,000 or more people there. They have never failed to amaze. When they announced this tour, I knew we had to go. The album Fully Completely in it’s entirety, plus 10 other songs. Awesome. Besides which the venue is about 15 minutes from my house, and I don’t have to fight Toronto traffic there and back. Sign me up.
My wife and I got there right at the scheduled show time, and we met some people we knew out front. My wife is a talker and I knew I didn’t want to miss any of the show, so I had to give her the old arm tug and the head turn that says “Come on just let’s go”, and I’m glad she didn’t kind of bite her lip and say “Jeez, I don’t know.”
Luckily The Hip were casually late so we got to walk around a bit. I have been to enough concerts that I keep my ears perked for the tell tale signs of when the band is about to hit the stage. We found the booth that was run by the band. If we signed up for The Hip app we had a chance to win swag, signed albums, and upgraded tickets. The people beside us at the booth won front row tickets as our apps were downloading. It took a while but my wife downloaded the app to her Iphone. It wasn’t working on my Samsung phone though. I went into the reviews and it appears that this app doesn’t work well on Samsung phones. Oh well. No swag for me. I was really hoping for some vinyl. My wife didn’t win either. No matter. It should be a cool app for her anyway.
I think the band brings out that friendly Canadian spirit. It was like a house party with 6,000 of your closest friends. The energy in the building was 100% positive. I even let it slide when the guy 2 in front of me let his buddy could cut in line for beer. That says a lot.
Just after I got my beer, I heard the usher yell that the show was about to start. We dashed to our seats, and found the seats on both sides of us empty. I LOVE having enough room at a concert to stretch out my arms and legs. Just like the difference between coach and first class in a plane. I crossed my fingers the people beside us would not show. I checked the setlist and the band changes the songs up every night, so other than the entire Fully Completely album, most of the songs were a mystery. I like when bands have so much talent, and such an awesome playlist to choose from, that they can mix it up every night.
Something I noticed tonight that I had never realized before. I always related Gord Downie to Joe Cocker because of his spastic movements, nervous energy, and giving it all every time he performs. Gord Downie tonight reminded me more of a mixture of Michael Stipe and David Lee Roth. Gord wore hats all night, wore leather pants, and had the mannerisms of both Stipe and Roth. He has an amazing stage presence, and can ad lib with the best of them. I think it would be interesting to hear a political debate or a history lesson with Michael Stipe and Gord Downie. No students would be falling asleep during that lecture. If they did, we could invite DLR along as well.
The Hip venture onto the stage with a thunderous roar of applause. Grace, Too is the opener as it has been for this entire tour. It is a great song to start a show, and pump the crowd up. The next two songs, At Transformation and Man Machine Poem are from the bands latest release, Now for Plan A. Decent songs, but the crowd is pro-older songs. Next is In View, again a newer song from World Container. Looking at the setlist from previous nights, most places did not get so many newer songs, but any Hip song is good,
Next is New Orleans is Sinking. Ok. Here we go. Gord will break the chains loose and go off on a tirade about Killer Whale tanks or some other nonsensical rambling about riding a roller coaster with Fozzie Bear or something, but no. There was New Orleans is Sinking. Don’t get me wrong that is a great f*cking song. I love it to death, but I wanted to hear rambling. I told my wife he would do some ad-libbing in the middle of this song, and he made a liar out of me. I am quite sure every other time I saw The Hip he added to the song.
The curtain lowers and the band go backstage. After a short break they re enter the stage and perform the album Fully Completely start to finish. I just reviewed this album for you on my last post so no need to elaborate on the entire thing again. It was nice to hear some songs that probably haven’t been played live much such as Lionized, We’ll Go Too,The Wherewithal, and Eldorado. There was also a nice sing along with the crowd during Wheat Kings, and of course the Zippo lighters came out. I’m glad I didn’t see a killers face.
Needless to say they performed the album flawlessly, other than one small detail. I am all about the cowbell. Not having cowbell during 50 Mission Cap is like having an Oreo with no filling. It’s still very good, just better with filling. I think it would have been awesome to see Gord Downie on stage doing his best Will Ferrell impersonation. Christopher Walken says it best. “I GOTTA HAVE MORE COWBELL BABY.”
Again the curtain lowers after the complete Fully Completely set. The band says goodnight, and a few people near us leave. Amateurs. No band as awesome as The Hip don’t have an encore. And in 2015 there is such a thing as being able to check previous setlists on the internet. I know there are 5 more songs, I`m just not sure which 5.
The band walks back on stage and the crowd roars again. Most of the crowd can tell as soon as the band starts to play that it is My Music at Work. Such a great song.
Boots or Hearts is next. Nice acoustic start. This song is unique because tonight Robbie Baker plays acoustic and Paul Langlois plays electric.
Fireworks. Great Canadian song which mentions the 1972 Summit Series, and is a song that demonstrates that when you love someone strong enough they may be more important than hockey.
Nautical Disaster. Gord shows he still has the chops, and he can do a pretty good impression of a rowboat across the stage.
Blow at High Dough. Great song to end the night, from my favourite Hip album.
It’s too bad that Gord didn’t go off on a rambling, incoherent tangent as he often does, especially for New Orleans is Sinking, but I wonder if they feel ” we’ve been there ,and done that.” Also more cowbell would have sealed the deal for me.
As it was