World Container is such a great album. After a triple-punch of less-than-stellar offerings from The Tragically Hip (Music @ Work, In Violet Light, In Between Evolution) I had started to think that one of my favourite bands may have permanently expended their creative oomph. Heck, even their live shows had been lacking, and The Hip were a live band if ever there was one.
Fortunately my borderline-extreme fandom of the band kept me from giving up on them – I still picked up every new album and went to every live show I could reasonably get to – and then they released World Container.
The album opens with Yer Not the Ocean, a catchy rocker that sounded like it could have come off of Trouble at the Henhouse or perhaps Phantom Power, then it’s right into The Lonely End of the Rink, possibly the greatest song ever written about being a goalie; what’s more Canadian than that? And it rocks hard, too. In View, The Drop-Off, Family Band, and the title track, World Container, oh, there’s so much good stuff on that record.
Ooooh, and my favourite bit? They album contains two completely different songs that share the exact same opening lyrics, the very rocking The Kids Don’t Get It and a piano balled called Pretend. And get this: they put them on the record back-to-back. Crazy. The first time I heard it I literally jumped out of my chair and rewound the album just to make sure I had heard what I thought I had heard. I had been impressed when they used the single phrase “garbage bag trees” twice on the same album (Fully Completely), but for The Hip to use an entire verse twice – in a row, no less – to such brilliantly diverse effect kind of blew my mind.
February 2nd, 2007 was the second time I saw the band after they released World Container, and the show at the Ottawa Senators hockey rink confirmed that they were “back” in a live sense as well. They played a lot off of the new album, including every song I’ve noted above (except for Pretend, which I had seen them play at Metropolis a year previously), plus a whole lot of other stuff.
Like Grace, Too, Ahead by a Century, Wheat Kings, Three Pistols, Long Time Running, At The Hundredth Meridian, Fiddler’s Green, Springtime in Vienna, Poets and so much more. Man, those guys wrote a lot of great songs.
And now here they were with a whole album full of more great songs.
They even stuck a cover of Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone into the encore. I don’t think I ever saw them do that before or since. Come to think of it I’m not sure if I can think of ever seeing The Hip play a cover song (though they started out as a cover band), so it was definitely a rare treat.
I was so glad that my favourite band was back. And now I’m heartbroken that they are gone again. This time really gone, and gone for good.
What a shame.