Saddledome, Calgary – July 15, 2007
By TARA MERRIN — Sun Media
CALGARY – The fans want to hear the hits. The band wants to sell copies of their latest disc.
It’s an old conundrum, with no easy solution.
The Tragically Hip, who brought their World Container tour to the Saddledome last night, tried their best to satisfy themselves and the crowd of 10,000 by mixing new stuff in with the classics.
For true fans of The Hip, those who downloaded the entire new disc onto their handy iPods as soon as it was released last fall, the formula proved to be genius. For the rest, those who haven’t followed the group since 1992’s Fully Completely, the material was a bit of a stumbling block in an otherwise rocking set.
Nevertheless, the Kingston quintet of Gord Downie, Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair, Rob Baker and Johnny Fay, marched on, almost unaware or indifferent to the unenthusiastic response during the 10 lesser-known tracks.
And, after pouring their hearts into the album, why shouldn’t they?
Last night started off with one of the World Container selections, The Lonely End of the Rink, not that anyone really noticed.
After the deafening screams subsided, all attention was on Downie, the band’s eccentric 43-year-old singer and his unstoppable energy.
He ran. He leapt. He mimicked an ape and, at times, pretended to type on an old-fashion typewriter. Twitching and pacing, he was both hilarious and serious, setting the tone for each number, as well as the night. And when the band broke into New Orleans is Sinking, the second song of the set, the party was in full swing.
Music @ Work was followed by crowd-pleasers Ahead by a Century and Yer Not the Ocean, but early highlight was the familiar Courage, which had everyone up again dancing and singing along.
Of the new stuff, World Container and In View went over best.
At press time, the energy in the room was at an all-time high as the Hip headed into the final stretch, which was to include Bobcaygeon, Poets, Little Bones and At the Hundredth Meridian.
While some fans may complain about the one or two songs TTH left out last night, looking back on a crazy week of concerts at the Saddledome, this one certainly stood out. It was loud. It was fun. It was hip-notizing.
The Sadies opened the show. They played an electrifying set, with a standout performance of a cover of Blue Rodeo’s Palace of Gold, which earned them a loud ovation and a few new fans.