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.
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.