Turning the Hip on its head
By John Paul Zronik
Most veterans of Tragically Hip concerts have come to expect the expected. The same songs performed the same way night after night, with little variation in set lists and few, if any, surprises.
Well, surprise, Hip fans. This is not the band you remember.
Can you say: “Acoustic Fireworks?”
During a two-set show at Kitchener’s Centre in the Square Monday night, the Hip delivered one surprise after another, performing what this reviewer considers one of the bands finest-ever concerts, including a sit-down acoustic performance of three songs to open the second half of the night.
Opening the show with Depression Suite – the longest track on We Are the Same, the band’s latest record – was a brilliant choice, going places the Hip has never gone before. I can not say enough about the live performance of this song. Wonderful, emotional, passionate and a rocking finish.
All of the band’s new songs translated brilliantly into the live setting, including Coffee Girl, Morning Moon, Honey Please, Love is a Curse (first set), The Last Recluse, Now The Struggle Has A Name (second set) and the encore The Exact Feeling.
But let us get to the heart of the matter. When it comes to oldies and goodies, the Hip delivered. And not in the form of Hip standards like New Orleans is Sinking, Little Bones or Fifty Mission Cap.
The band reached into the vault, performing the rarely played Yawning or Snarling (good enough to make you want to cry), The Bear (a pleasant acoustic surprise) and On the Verge (need I say more), as well as Hip hits In View, Twist My Arm, Escape is at Hand, Wheat Kings, 100th Meridian, Poets, Flamenco, Putting Down and Locked in the Trunk of a Car.
For the casual Hip fan, the set list may have seemed short on familiarity, but for the initiated, it was heavenly. I overheard one guy standing at the urinal after the show saying “They didn’t play enough old stuff.” I disagree with that assessment: They did play enough old stuff, just not the mundane “old stuff” people remember.
And seeing the Hip in an acoustic setting gave me a new appreciation for the band. The intimate sit down performance of The Bear, Wheat Kings and Fireworks was a stroke of brilliance. The sound was pure.
So, I loved the show. My only question: What took these guys so long to figure out what they are capable of? Mixing the set and throwing in the unexpected made this a Hip show to remember, one I will never forget. And the band was HOT!
Who knows where the tour and song selection will go from here, but if the Hip keeps delivering surprises like it did Monday night, concert goers are in for a real treat. Really.
My only regret is that I planned to attend only one show this tour, believing these guys would deliver more of the same, as they have year after year.
So a question for you, dear readers: Who has my extra?