Saturday, August 6, 2016

Tragically Hip Live in Edmonton July 30th 2016

Hard to believe it has been a week already since the Tragically Hip show, but it has taken me this long to totally absorb last weeks show. So here is what I have to say about the show. Enjoy!

On Saturday Janis, Cuz and I went to the Tragically Hip show with my friends Shane, Miles and Chris who made the trip from North Vancouver and Kamloops to come up for the show here in Edmonton at Rexall Place. This show was going to be a special one for many reasons, first and foremost this would be the very last time I get to see the Tragically Hip live in concert in person, and Shane and Chris making it up here for the show made it even more special. It was with these two that I saw The Hip in concert for the first time back in 1991 on the Road Apples Tour when they lived here. It had been over twenty year since either one had made a visit to Edmonton. So when they told me they were coming up for the show and bringing Miles another good friend of mine with them I was super excited.

Ticket stub from the very first time I saw The Hip in concert.

After a few drinks in the afternoon, it was off to the show. This would be my seventeenth time seeing The Hip in concert and sadly my last time. You could kind of sense the sadness in us as we headed to the show knowing that this would be it. I have grown up with this Kingston, Ontario band all through my 20's, 30' and now 40's. From the first time I heard them I was an instant fan. Gord Downie's lyrics have always been thought provoking making you really think about what he is singing, and sometimes I just really had no idea what he was singing about, but that just made it even more interesting trying to figure it out. And then of course there are the songs with great Canadian references in the lyrics. It's always been cool that the band never went through any line-up changes either, it's always been Gord Downie on vocals, Paul Langlois on guitar, Rob Baker on guitar, Gord Sinclair on bass and Johnny Fay on drums. It was the first time I saw them in concert when I knew after that I would see these guys at any chance I had, an absolutely amazing live band.

By the time the show started at 8:30 pm sharp as advertised the place was packed with even the seating behind the stage full. The Hip started the show with four rockers from their debut album Up To Here. Starting with "Blow At High Dough" then into "Opiated" next was "Boots Or Hearts" and closing out the first small set was one of their biggest hits "New Orleans Is Sinking". Gord was sporting a shiny blue suit one of four different colour suits he has been wearing on this Man Machine Poem tour. It was during the third song "Boots Or Hearts" that things really started to kick, the emotion of what I was seeing and experiencing when Gordie sang the words...

See when it starts
To fall apart
Man, it really falls apart
Like boots or hearts
Oh when they start
They really fall apart

this was then the tears started for me. This kept up all night long with certain lines being sung.

The next block of songs were from the latest Hip album Man Machine Poem. With Gord battling terminal brain cancer all the lyrics seem to sink in even more so now. A new song "In A World Possessed By The Human Mind" really made you think, and then they played the song "Tired As Fuck" a song I was really hoping I would get to hear. Tired As Fuck, well you would never know it by Gord's performance such passion, emotion and energy.

The next batch of songs come from the We Are The Same album. The song "Now The Struggle Has A Name" with the lyrics...

Now the struggle has a name
It doesn't fade, it hasn't changed
I still feel the same
Now the struggle has a name

this is when the tears started to stream. I tried to be discreet and wipe them away, but then I looked at Janis and saw her doing the same and then the guy next to me also doing the same thing, I thought fuck it, why fight it, let the tears flow. And they did through out the show.

In between songs there would be chants of "Gordie, Gordie" from the sold out crowd, that were loud and thunderous with everyone stomping their feet while yelling. It was truly one of the loudest crowds I have heard at Rexall Place in quite sometime.

When the band broke into songs from the Fully Completely album which is probably their most popular album. They already had the revved up crowd really going crazy and singing along, first up was "Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)". When they did that song you could feel the collective energy of every being in the arena directed towards Gordie sending him so much love, support and "Courage". The words on the teleprompter says it all.

Next was "At The Hundredth Meridian" a song about the prairies that has always been a Canadian classic. That was a tough song to try and keep my motions in check especially the verse...

If I die of vanity, promise me, promise me
If they bury me some place I don't want to be
You'll dig me up and transport me, unceremoniously
Away from the swollen city breeze, garbage bag trees
Whispers of disease and the acts of enormity
And lower me slowly and sadly and properly
Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy

"Wheat Kings" and "Fifty Mission Cap" came next and was an awesome one two punch. There really isn't a bad song on the Fully Completely album.

The next four songs come from The Hip's 1996 album Trouble At The Henhouse with the last of the four songs being "Ahead By A Century" where the very last line of the song is "And disappointing you is getting me down", it was almost like Gord was beating himself up for letting us down cause of his illness, that line really stung and had me tearing up big time. That was the last song til encore time, but before the encore the band left the stage except for Gord Downie who stood in the middle of the stage and just soaked in all the admiration from the audience, looking around nodding to the crowd, you could see he had tears in his eyes too, now there wasn't a dry eyes in the place. That was some raw emotion. What also struck me during the show was the other band members almost looking sad as they played like they know as well that this is it, the last ever tour by the band that they have all been in since 1984.

For the encore the band did three songs from the Day For Night album. Starting with "Greasy Jungle" a great rocker, it's funny through out the whole show I was rocking away but at the same time had tears rolling from eyes. Next was the song "Scared" another tough song when you really listen tot he lyrics, and Gord sang it with such passion. Try out these lyrics and tell me this don't hit home when sung by someone that is fighting brain cancer...

If you can make me scared, if that's what you do
If I'm unclear, can I get out of this thing with me and you
If you feel scared, and a bit confused
I got to say, this sounds a little beyond anything I'm used to

They closed out the first encore with the haunting song "Grace, Too" which has always been a song that I have loved, and when Gord sang the verse...

The secret rules of engagement are hard to endorse
When the appearance of conflict meets the appearance of force
But I can guarantee, there'll be no knock on the door
I'm total pro here, that's what I'm here for

you certainly got that right Mr. Downie you are a pro.

The band came out for a second encore playing two songs from the Phantom Power album. Before they started Gord spoke, one of the few times he actually said anything to the audience saying the first time we played Edmonton we played to six people, now look at us, two nights, thank you to each and everyone of you, in which the crowd cheered loudly chanting Gordie, Gordie again and thanking him and the band for all the great music and live performances they have done over the years. The first song of the second encore was a song called "Fireworks" where the first verse has some great hockey references...

If there's a goal that everyone remembers
It was back in old seventy two
We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger
And all I remember is sitting beside you

You said you didn't give a fuck about hockey
And I never saw someone say that before
You held my hand and we walked home the long way
You were loosening my grip on Bobby Orr

Brilliant writing. And the last song I will ever see The Tragically Hip perform in person was "Bobcaygeon".

An absolutely amazing night of music, Gord put on a classic performance the band sounded great the crowd loved it. It was a night of high emotions, lots of tears, rocking out, singing along and just taking it all in. I am so glad I went to both shows in Edmonton. Out of the 50 songs they did over the course of the two nights, the band played 42 different songs. Name another band that could pull that off. This is a show that I will never forget.

Setlist for the Edmonton show on July 30th 2016.

Tragically Hip at Rexall Place July 30th 2016.

After the show we all met at the Gretzky statue and made our way back to my place to crack open the last bottle of Tragically Hip Fully Completely red wine that I had saved for a special moment like this. We had that and called it a night as we were all mentally and emotionally drained. I think we were all in awe of what we had just experienced and still coping with the realization that this would be the last time we would see The Hip in concert.

A big thank you to Shane for coming to Edmonton for the show and bringing Chris and Miles with you. It was great to see all of you, hang out together for a few days and to experience the last time we would all see The Hip, and being able to do it all together. Good times!!!

On Saturday August 20th the Tragically Hip will be playing there very last concert in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario, this show will be broadcast on the following media outlets CBC Television, CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, CBC Music and YouTube. I know Canada will be tuned in for this big time and recommend you check it out as well. Watch for local happenings in your city for special events that night at your local watering hole.

Gord and band you are going to be missed, but thankfully we will always have your music to listen to. Thanks so much for having the Courage to do one last tour. Stay strong Gord Downie!!!

T-shirt front.

T-shirt back.

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