I’m finally part of the 99% of Canadians who have seen The Tragically Hip live in concert. One of the friends I was to attend with couldn’t make the show last minute and we couldn’t get anyone to take the ticket. That sounds sad but the truth is many people had simply already seen them in concert…3 or 4…or more times. I’ve been inducted to the Hip’s collection. Despite all this they still managed to pretty much sell out Rexall Place in Edmonton last night (where the Oilers play). And there is a reason: Gord Downie. Of course it wouldn’t be the Hip without the band but he knows how to entertain and you get the feeling that he isn’t even doing it for your benefit – he just can’t stand still. The best way I can describe it is a Charlie Chaplin + Canadian krumping. The music and his actions always told two separate stories.
The energy of a Hip show is huge. This was a bit of a surprise to me because their albums are more like mellow poetry for me. I hadn’t really thought of them as a *rock* band but live they get down right grungy and raw and it is lovely. And loud. Speaking of lovely, so was the reverence for the classics, the moment when everyone stood with lighters* and swayed along to Wheat Kings.
To add yet another Canadian moment they played the song Hello Attawapiskat from their new album. Just a few months ago and again in my Two Solitudes post I referenced Joseph Boyden’s talk at the University of Alberta. What I had forgotten until last night was that Mr. Boyden had invited the Hip up to Northern Ontario with him and they played a show there for hope a solidarity – I believe that is where the song originated. PLUS, I learned that one of my favourites, Courage, is actually named Courage (For Hugh MacLennan) – a shout out to the author of the most recent Canada Reads book and the one I mentioned above Two Solitudes. Full circle, people.
Any Canadian culture moments to share?
*While it was a more intimate spectacle with firelight than cellphone glow I have to ask – what is the smoking rate in Edmonton???