This is the first of what I hope to be many “Hugh’s Review”‘s. Hugh is a dedicated fan from the Detroit area. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Wasaga Beach show in 2004, and then attending the Detriot and Cleveland shows with him later that year. Hugh’s reviews of past shows have always been detailed and interesting to read. So here is the first of Hugh’s Reviews for your enjoyment:
Point State Park is located in downtown Pittsburgh. It is small and can be found where the “Three Rivers” meet. This gives the greenspace its pointed shape. On Friday, the park was bustling with people viewing the different displays of art. Downtown Pittsburgh was alive with workers commuting home and baseball fans making their way to the Pirates game.
At the Hilton hotel, in an outdoor bar across from the park, a group of nine Hipbasers met. Along with our friends who were Hip fans too, our group numbered close to twenty people. We had fun socializing and talking about The Hip before heading over to the concert area. The stage was set in the back of the park near the river walk. It was a small area that made it intimate and cozy. The crowd was a diverse group of fans. Two fans in wheelchairs were front row center. Behind them were three young families all with young children ranging in ages from 1 to 6 years old. Surrounding these people were hundreds of hardcore Hip fans. I was worried the families would be pushed around during the show, but everyone was very respectful. I would estimate that 1000 people attended this free show.
I was expecting a short set since this was a free Festival show. Instead I was pleasantly suprised with a full 19 song set from the hard working Hip. The set was an excellent mix of new songs, fan favorites and three rarities. The band appeared relaxed and in control. Gord D. was very enjoyable to watch as he flailed about the stage singing, dancing and acting out. Paul’s smile beamed frequently as he played. Gord S. was bouncing to the beat of his bass in his own unique style. He was jamming with Johnnie who has streamlined his drum set. Johnnie played fiercely throughout the show. Robbie wore a pair of aviator glasses with a brown tint for the first half of the show. His solos were full of flair as he occasionally threw his long hair back and jammed out.
As I mentioned, Gord D. was very energetic and playful with the gathered fans. During Fully, Completely he pretended to drive a car while shifting gears. He screamed, “I’m too emotinal to drive”. During Poets he had a good dorsal fin/swimming rant as he paddled the stage with his mikestand. Before Lake Fever Gord spoke of a tall ship anchored in the harbor flying a yellow flag. He said it meant stay away, quarantined — as the band launched into the song. During the middle of the show Gord shouted, “This is a night like no other”! Everyone cheered in agreement. Near the end of the show Gord told the story of his fifth grade teacher who drove to school each day with the red canoe christened “Grace Too” lashed to the roof of his car. To end Grace Too, Gord made an emotional political statement. He ranted, “I’m your man! You man’s coming home! Bring them home! END THE WAR! He grabbed his mikestand and held it to his shoulder like a rifle. He became a soldier dodging bullets and shooting back. The final minutes of the encore Gord was in the zone. He walked along the stage monitors as if balancing on a perilous ledge. He jumped down and had a battle with his mikestand. Then Gord danced in his crazy way until the song ended with him struting like a peacock/rooster across the stage.
Soon after the show ended, an excellent fireworks display took place from a barge in the river behind the stage. We gathered near The Hip’s tour bus with quite a few other fans. All the band members came by and said hello to those who were there. Robbie and Gord D. signed autographs and took pictures with the fans. Gord was extremely patient and slightly overwhemled by the fans seeking to speak with him. He made sure to speak with the young fans who were in the front row during the show. Even though he appeared slightly tired, Gord did not leave until everyone got a minute with him.
I enjoyed this show for a number of reasons. First, because it was free. Second, because our Hipbase group watched the show together from the second row in front of Robbie. Finally, the set list was a great mixture of songs showing The Hip’s diverse ability and talent. I couldn’t have had a more enjoyable evening with my friends and The Hip.
Setlist (from thehip.com)
1: The Lonely End Of The Rink
2: Fully Completely
3: Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park
5: Lake Fever
6: Heaven Is A Better Place Today
7: Ahead By A Century
8: Gift Shop
9: The Last Of The Unplucked Gems
11: At The Hundredth Meridian
14: Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin’ Man
15: Grace, Too
16: My Music At Work
17: The Drop Off
19: Fire In The Hole