On September 27th, 2009 I walked from my house just off the Rideau Canal to the National Arts Centre, also on the canal, to see the second night of a three-night Tragically Hip run.
Though the NAC is a poorly designed bunker of a building designed around a consistent and overused hexagon motif that render almost every stairway almost unusable, I have a soft spot for the place. By the time of this show I had been working there for almost a decade, doing live video work with the orchestra four times a year in the most fun and enlightening job I’ve ever had. I had long gotten used to walking the boards on the NAC stage and wandering about my post behind the curtains, but I’ve never stopped appreciating the joy of listening to the wealth of musicians warming up and lithely going over their parts in brilliant cacophony before every show and rehearsal.
And so rock shows in the room (of which I’ve seen many) are always extra-special, as familiar as I am with the artist’s realm up there on the stage. This show and the one from the previous evening would mark my only times seeing The Hip here, and both shows were great.
There were a few overlapping numbers but not many*, and even still the band tends to jam songs out a bit so they are rarely the same twice. Though The Hip were touring their latest album We Are The Same they touched on it very briefly; just a couple of songs. They spent as much or more time on their previous album World Container (one of my absolute favourites), which was super-fine with me.
Clear highlights were Last Of The Unplucked Gems, Lonely End Of The Rink, Long Time Running, Gord Downie climbing through the crowd balancing on chair backs and sticking his microphone into screaming fan faces, and leisurely strolling home after the concert on a lovely fall evening.
Why I didn’t go to the third show still vexes me.
*I wasn’t too surprised that they played New Orleans and even Blow at High Dough at all three shows (I read a review of the concert I missed) or even 100th Meridian I suppose, but it was odd that they played Depression Suite every night.