020899 The Tragically Hip/By Divine Right, Ottawa, ON

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On February 8th, 1999 I went to see The Tragically Hip at the Ottawa hockey rink.  Seems they were calling it the Corel Centre at the time, so this was clearly before the hi-tech bubble burst.  

At the time The Hip were pretty close to the peak of their status, having yet to hit their Music @ Work/In Violet Light/In Between Evolution triple-threat era of relative disappointment and radio inattention, so they had booked into Ottawa for a two-night stint, both of which I’m sure sold out tidily.  

This was firmly in the era where I would normally buy tickets to both nights, but if I recall correctly my friend and companion for this show was only interested in attending the latter of the two (though we had gone to their show in Montreal a few days earlier).  And while in retrospect I really should have gone to both Ottawa shows we certainly picked the right one.

Because: Cordelia.

The Hip were one of those bands that would switch up their setlist every night and while they weren’t above repeating the occasional song two nights in a row (even in the same venue, something more extreme repeat-averse bands like Phish or The Dead would never, ever do), every show was still very, very different and certain songs would only come out every once in a while.

Such was the case with one of my all-time favourite Hip songs, Cordelia.  I have no idea why they would play such a great (and popular) song so infrequently, but so rare was their tale of angst on the planks and screaming out MacBeth that was (ironically, I suppose) chorused around King Lear’s noblest offspring that I only ever saw them play it live twice.

Imagine that.  I saw this band twenty-six times!  I heard them play songs like Grace, Too and At The Hundredth Meridian more than twenty times each, Ahead By A Century, Poets, and New Orleans Is Sinking almost as often and amazingly this concert was my second and final time hearing one of my most cherished Hip songs live.  I went on to see The Tragically Hip fairly consistently for the next seventeen years and never caught Cordelia again.  Not once.

Old antiques a man alone can entertain.

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