On November 28th, 2004 I took in a The Tragically Hip show at Ottawa’s Civic Centre. The band had just played the Grey Cup halftime show upstairs at Frank Clair Stadium a few days before (you can be forgiven if you don’t remember; Grey Cup halftime shows are to Superbowl halftime shows as snowbirds are to bald eagles, as Flin Flon is to New York City, as Pablum is to the Baconator, as Anne Murray is to Pantera; oh, I could go on and on) and were touring their very forgettable In Between Evolution album.
Okay, take it easy there Bucko, don’t get yer panties all tied up in knots. I’m as big a Hip fan as you’re going to find and yeah, In Between Evolution is hands-down the most forgettable album the band put out (though it is well worth owning). Go ahead, name one song off of it. Okay, yes, Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park is on it; good one. And yes, Vaccination Scar is on there too. Wow, that’s pretty impressive – you know your The Tragically Hip.
How about Summer’s Killing Us? No? If New Orleans Is Beat? You’re Everywhere, The Heart of the Melt, One Night In Copenhagen? How about Mean Streak, or As Makeshift As We Are?
See? There’s basically nothing on the album that springs to mind when one thinks of The Tragically Hip’s oeuvre. And at this show they played more than half of the freakin’ record.
Fortunately that amounted to only seven songs out of about twenty-five, so there was certainly a lot of familiar material to scream along to, songs like Little Bones, At the Hundredth Meridian, and Ahead by a Century among others. But really, this show doesn’t stand out as one that, well, stands out, sitting as it does at the heart of The Hip’s less-than-stellar period.
That said, with Gord gone now (for just over a year at the time of writing) I sure wish I had this show back to do all over again. If I did I would rivet my attention on Downie as he introduced his new set of sonic babies, doubtlessly wriggling about and acting out his new lyrics to ten thousand screaming fans in that oh-so-fascinating mime of his.
I take too many things for granted. I must keep telling myself at every concert that this could be (insert iconic band name here)’s last show.
Or mine, for that matter. Now there’s a happy thought.
Either way, I just took the plunge and bought Bob Weir tickets for his upcoming stop in Syracuse and I’ll darn well pay attention, regardless of what he decides to play. You never know.