Hugh’s Review: 2006-07-03 – Chicago, IL


Don’t Wake Daddy
The Lonely End Of The Rink
New Orleans Is Sinking
Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park
‘It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken’
Twist My Arm
Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin’ Man
The Last Of The Unplucked Gems
At The Hundredth Meridian
Are You Ready
Grace, Too
My Music At Work
The Drop Off
Fire In The Hole

An estimated 1 million people gathered in Grant Park, located in downtown Chicago, to view the city’s Fourth of July fireworks display over Lake Michigan. As downtown filled for the patriotic celebration, the House of Blues quickly filled with excited Hip fans. It wasn’t long before we were treated to a high energy show filled with Gord Downie antics and excellent musicianship from all the band members.

After the powerful tones of the opener Don’t Wake Daddy ended, the band played one of their soon to be released songs, Lonely End of the Rink. As many of you know, this song is filled with hockey references. When Gord sang the line “Jump into the rush” he became a hockey player stickhandling through the opposing team. When Gord sang the line about “fakes and the sweetest of dekes” he became a goalie trying to make a stop on a break away. The fan favorite NOIS returned to the setlist in a U.S. venue for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The temperature was literally rising within the HOB as the fans danced to the pulsating beat of The Hip’s music. One of the best songs of the night was Twist My Arm. To start Gord suddenly grabbed his mikestand and held it like a spear or javelin. He spotted something, then threw his spear into the crowd almost releasing it. As the song continued Gord became more animated. He danced and strutted his trademark rooster/peacock. Instead of using his hand for his tail feathers, Gord held his red bandana behind himself and it became a flowing tail. It fluttered behind him as he gyrated back and forth. Gord changed personas and he was a matador taunting a bull with his red cape/bandana.

The next song was Escape. Gord explained how the song was inspired by Jim Ellison, the lead singer for the now defunct Material Issue. Gord related that Jim had slept in The Hip’s van overnight on a past tour. The band had lost touch with Jim when they heard of his death a few years later. During the 100th Meridian Gord was dancing about wildly and riding his motorcycle mikestand. Then suddenly Gord was fiddling with his earplugs. The portable battery on his waist that powers his earplugs went dead. He took the earplugs out and stuck them in a guy’s ears in the front row. Gord took them back and quickly changed batteries. The fan was very suprised to say the least. During the musical break near the end of the song the entire venue clapped in unison to the beat of Johnny’s drums and Gord Sinclair’s bass. It was at this point that Robbie and Paul had a blues guitar battle. Robbie began with an excellent riff then he would fade out and Paul would amp up and play a bluesy riff of his own. They went back and forth displaying a little flair along with their technical skill. It sounded so good. By this time it was hot and steamy inside the HOB. During the intro to Grace Too Gord said, “It’s hot! It’s Afganistan hot! I want to go home. I don’t want to die! Bring them home. End the war”! With one last song in the main set and an encore that included Sherpa, our musical adventure ended.

Robbie Baker was kind enough to leave us some back stage passes for a meet and greet after the show. We were all taken to a small area in the upper balcony of the HOB. There all five band members chatted with a good sized group of family members and friends. It was difficult to speak with the guys because so many wanted to say hello to them. Robbie eventually made his way to us. He is very easy going with a great sense of humor. He told us the interesting story on the difficulty of obtaining the master tapes for the Hipeponymous compilation. We were able to say hello to the other band members before we left. Is it possible for a person to be totally satisfied and drained, yet still be yearning for his next Hip show? I would say yes, because that is exactly how I feel.