TLB’s Review: 2007-01-12 – Prince George, BC

Well, even though it’s two days late, here’s my review:

No matter what folks say, this was an amazing night for both myself and the city of Prince George. Sometimes I truly feel that people here don’t appreciate the bands that take a chance to come through our city. Being eight hours from Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver, they really should. This show marked The Hip’s return to PG in more than six years and for the diehards in the crowd, I’m positive they didn’t leave disappointed.

I arrived just as The Sadies finished their opening set and from what I heard, they have quite a unique sound. Hopefully the crowd was appreciative. After checking out the merchandise stand, I made my way down to my seat on the floor in Row 5 – and for that I have Kincher to thank. Not only did he sell me my seat, but also four more in Row 13 for some friends of mine. Along with some fellow DBA’s in Row 10 and a couple family friends in the stands directly to our left, I was overjoyed at the prospect of sharing the night with people that mean so much to me. As Gord always points out, this particular night was special – it only happened that night with those people and those songs, and that was never lost on me throughout the entire show.

“…. I looked up into yer big dark eyes above and said ‘hey PG, thanks’ ….”

The Lonely End Of The Rink – Usually when the lights go down to signal the show has begun, The Boys come right out and break into their opener. On this night, they waited more than a half minute to do so, thus allowing the crowd to stomp and chant and pretty much get ‘up’ for The Boys to take the stage. Rink’s been getting a ton of airplay on the local radio stations and makes their nightly ‘most requested songs of the day’ features.

My Music At Work – I was really surprised to hear this one and it hasn’t lost any of the edge it has when played live. As usual, Robby made his way over to Johnny to finish this song off.

Grace, Too – I had noticed recently this staple being left off a few setlists, which boggles my mind as this is always a tune I expect to hear at any Hip show and never tire of hearing live. Gord’s animation really took off here, with him smashing the microphone stand into the stage. Later, he hopped up onto the speaker stack at stage left, laid down across them, put his hands under his head and ‘went to bed’. He stayed that way for at least 10 or 15 seconds before jumping down and finishing up with the ‘him, here, now, no’ lines. As usual, the light show during Grace was to die for – no repetitive strobing lights, just a constant plethora of white beams in all directions at a nice slow speed.

Lake Fever – This one caught me off-guard and sounded as spot-on as ever. I swear that was the longest intro to Lake Fever I’ve ever seen them do – it was a good 60 to 90 seconds of Langois, Sinclair, Baker and Fay looping the opening chords with some different touches here and there while Gord and the tech’s fixed both his hearing device and his acoustic guitar. Paul always nails his backing vocals in this one.

The Drop-Off – On this night, The Drop-Off sounded more like the album cut than the live cut I’ve learned to love. Where the live version plays a beat faster and conveys more energy, this version more resembled the album version – they played it a beat slower and as such, the energy just wasn’t there for me.

Bobcaygeon – With this one, the crowd was back into it and for myself, the song has taken on a whole new feeling ever since the October show at The Horseshoe Tavern. This is now the ‘checkered-board floor song’ and The Tavern is the ‘checkered-board floor place’. Since we weren’t in Toronto on this night, there was no loud reception for the ‘that night in Toronto’ line – the line immediately after that is the one I now directly identify with.

In View – Always love the riffs Robby pounds out in lieu of the keyboards, What is it about this song that makes people lock arms and dance in circles like they’re at Oktoberfest? Is it the alcohol? The ‘pop’ sound of the song? It isn’t a PG thing because I saw folks doing the exact same thing in Calgary.

Poets – Sounded great as always. Gord rehashed his Poets rant to finish the song off (‘swim, not to me, not to him, there’s a six-foot dorsal fin closing in, I want to feed you lunch, breakfast, and your dinner too in a 15-foot canoe with a pole of bamboo because I don’t want to disqualify you). Gord has recited this rant so often over the last few years during Poets that for me, it is now part-and-parcel of the song. Heck, I was singing along with every word of the rant just like I would sing along with every word of the song.

Flamenco & World Container – So far this arena tour, the #9 & #10 setlist slots have been occupied by two slow songs, something I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sinclair do before with such regularity. I remember thinking during these two songs that it was intentionally that way to accomodate a beer break for the fans. It sounds a bit ridiculous but I’m still thinking the same thing a couple days after the fact. Where in the past the pattern would be ‘slow-song’, ‘fast-song’, ‘slow-song’, etc, this time around these two slots have been pretty much set and conveniently arranged for a beer/bathroom break. At one point during Flamenco Gord leaned his back on the microphone stand, grabbed the top with his right hand, let his left arm hang low and ever-so-slowly slid down it into a sitting position – resembling a stripper sliding down her stage-pole at yer local peeler bar.

Fireworks – I remember thinking during World Container that since they played two slow songs, an ideal comeback would be to wake everyone up with At The Hundredth Meridian (they actually played that after Fireworks). I was really enjoying the screens up to this point and hoped that some hockey clips would fly by during the first verse of this song. Unfortunately, right at that point something happened with the intended video for the screens (whatever it was to be) and all the screens went black or snowy. This didn’t change for the rest of the song.

At The Hundredth Meridian – Wake up time! What else can you say about this song that isn’t already known? Pure power, extended jam mid-song, get the crowd pumped and come back into it to finish the song off. Afterwards a hearty reception and extended whistling.

38 Years Old – If someone was deaf and walked in to the arena during this one, they’d have thought the band was playing Blow At High Dough. The crowd went absolutely nuts during the whole song. I remember looking around and thinking “what the heck….”

The Kids Don’t Get It – Gord really seemed to be straining on this one. He mixed up a couple lines and it just didn’t have the ‘oomph’ that it had during the club tour. Maybe the song just translates better in a smaller venue.

Gift Shop – After the crowd figured out which song this was, they grew a little louder. Still a mellow reaction but it got some loud cheers afterwards.

Ahead By A Century – (see 38 Years Old). Once again, for one reason or another the crowd went crazy. During the extended outro, Gord spent almost all of it directly behind Johnny and his drum kit, strumming like crazy while the rest of The Boys found a groove and rode it.

Yer Not The Ocean – I like this song alot, but as with most small town crowds, any new material generally calls for a beer/bathroom break. I mentioned to my fellow DBA’s after the show that all seven WC songs played really sounded flat to me, like they were all missing a little something. In View sounded decent, but the rest went right over my head. Maybe it was because since I was in Row 5, I was in front of the speaker stacks hanging from the rafters and missed all the high sounds or something. Regardless, I knew that once Ocean was played, we were nearing the end of the main set.

New Orleans Is Sinking – Once again it was wake up time! At the top of this review, I included a line from this song – originally I thought Gord was thanking someone named ‘Peachy’ but quickly realized he had said ‘hey PG, thanks’.

On The Verge – The biggest surprise of the night for me! I love this song but since it’s not one of their radio singles, I think it was lost on alot of people. They ended their very first PG show in 1999 with this one and I’m glad they pulled it out here again. This marked the end of the main set.

“…. happy hour, happy hour, happy hour is here ….”

It Makes No Difference – After On The Verge, Gord told the crowd ‘please stay, don’t go yet, stay in yer seats, we’ll be back’ which was nice because most small town crowds leave before the encore to get out of the parking lot quickly and avoid the traffic jams. Usually the encore break is at least a minute but The Boys came back in less than 30 seconds and played this cover. I remember Billy Ray taping something to the floor beside Gord’s microphone stand. During the song, Gord forgot a couple lines and messed them up, then stared at the floor to get back on track and I realized that those were the lyrics to this cover tune. I didn’t know this song but I do recall Hipbasers clamouring for this one and how they might be happy it was finally covered.

Family Band – Once again, a great song but was missing a little something. I remember Robby was a couple notes behind after the mid-song six-second break leading back in to his mini-solo.

Little Bones – Even though I’m sick of this song live and really wanted Blow At High Dough to close out the night, I knew in the back of my mind they would end with this. Included was an extended outro to put an exclamation point on the whole night. The thing I really liked was when Gord sang the ‘happy hour is here’ line, he pointed to his heart, circled it on his chest a couple times and continued to point at it, as if he was saying ‘happy hour is here, here in your heart’.

Afterwards, I grabbed the setlist from the new sound guy Mark. I also told him that the shows were sounding awesome, including the ten shows I saw in three weeks on the club tour. The lighting guy Brent filled us in on the story with the fifth stage screen (the top one). Suffice it to say, it will be back soon for you folks in the Prairies. Lastly, I was able talk to my HOB guy after all that and update him on where I am now and why.

All in all, I really enjoyed the show and the fact that it was my hometown. I was a babbling bafoon before and after simply because they were playing Prince George for the first time in six years and for only the third time ever. While I wish for them to come back in the future many more times, somehow I think they won’t. People braved -30 degree temperatures to wait overnight in line for tickets in 1999. In 2000, the show sold out in under six minutes. In both instances, tickets went for over $100 in the local papers, the town was buzzing for days prior and you couldn’t find a Hip ticket if your life depended on it. It was quite the opposite for this show – the radio stations were giving away tons of tickets in the week leading up, you could get two tickets in the first 10 rows for the price of one on Ebay, and it wasn’t close to sold out after that was all said and done (probably about 85% or 90% full).

I have to admit that for the first time in years, I more often than not forgot my self-imposed duties at the show and simply zoned out, in awe of the band. I reflected on all the shows I’ve seen and all the cities I’ve been to, and somehow I was so captivated by this single show in my hometown. Heck, I even caught myself welling up a couple times during the show at that simple fact.

I am happy that some fellow DBA’s finally came to my hometown for a Hip show – I showed them as much of the town as I could but would’ve liked to have had another day or two with them here. A special thanks goes out to Kincher and all of his support with tickets for my friends. His wife and little brother were cool. He knows I’ll be contacting him soon enough and staying in touch going forward.

Of the 38 shows I’ve been to, I think I’ve written a review for 4 or 5 of them, with this one being by far the longest of the lot. Thanks for reading and I hope you got as much out of the review as I did writing it.