Tragically Hip hungry for more
Still driven after nearly 25 years
By TARA MERRIN — Sun Media
The Tragically Hip have been together for almost 25 years, yet very little about them has changed.
Yes, they’ve added big screens at their arena shows and their catalogue of music has grown a great deal, but the boys from Kingston, Ont., are otherwise the same.
Their most recent CD, World Container, is doing well in Canada, yet they still haven’t experienced the same success south of the border.
By all indications, there’s no breakup on the horizon. They are just the same old Tragically Hip, and guitarist Paul Langlois says they couldn’t be happier about that.
“It’s a good thing for this band that we still feel like we have something to prove.
“That hunger to achieve more and create more is still there and I think that’s why we are still together. And it probably helps that there has been some focus on our perceived lack of success in America, even though we do feel quite successful down there on our own terms. It’s a very slow build, but the word is spreading,” he says.
“We have always felt as a group that we could step on any stage and make it happen — that’s why we keep going. .”
The Hip have sold more than six-million albums worldwide, won a dozen Junos and were inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 2005.
Tonight, they return to the Saddledome for their first local show since a handful of small concerts at MacEwan Hall last October.
When asked why a band that could fill an arena would play to such small crowds, Langlois says it’s simply to ward off boredom.
“It was just a matter of changing it up, keeping it different all the time and maybe to keep people guessing. We like the big shows and we like the small shows. What we don’t like is monotony.”
That’s why The Hip, unlike most successful bands, do not script their live shows. Every night the set list is switched and the in-between song banter is off-the-cuff.
“It’s something we are proud of, but that’s not why we do it — it’s just to keep us on our toes. The set list, Gordie (Downie) and Gord (Sinclair) write it up usually a couple hours before we go on — it’s pretty rare there would be any heated debates on these creative things.
“We definitely like to play the new material, but we play a long enough set list that we can throw in nine or 10 older ones.”
Fans at the show can also expect a stripped down gig — no pyrotechnics and no lasers, just the boys on stage running through their favourites.
“We have always been very careful not take away from what’s going on on stage,” says Langlois. “It feels like, by doing that, we have been successful in pleasing everybody, including ourselves.”
The Tragically Hip, with openers The Sadies, hit the stage at the Saddledome at 7:30 p.m. tonight. Tickets for the show are on sale at Ticketmaster.