“There’s a fight over there!…Somebody’s gonna get fuckin’ hurt!…Get control of yourselves!…hey leopard print!”
We all know Gord Downie is a grade A bad ass but these quotes make it all the more clear. Before I get there, let’s rewind a little for this concert review.
Ryan and I arrived at the venue around 1:30 PM to see how big the lineup was. Nobody! We waited in the alcove at valet parking, where we were told GA ticket holders were to line up, for about an hour but it seemed weird that nobody else was there. We walked around the building a couple times but didn’t see any lines. We asked another guy, who told us the line was on the opposite side of valet parking up a ramp. Still nobody was there. We went up to the actual concert doors, down some escalators etc. We were able to hear sound check with a nice man from Indiana completely undisturbed. The people down there said we could just stay here and go in when the concert started (giving us a clear lag up on the line). That was nice, so we decided this was our best option. We went upstairs, got some merch (which the Tragically Hip really did well on this tour by the way) and waited for the concert to begin downstairs. About a half hour before doors, a woman came and kicked us out, towards a line of about twenty people upstairs (a third location we had been told to line up). Needless to say, we weren’t happy being this far back considering we had been there before anybody else that day. This was probably my only complaint about the concert. My wish is that when the Hip come back in July, the casino staff has (as our new friend Tim would say), “their poop in a group”. Finally, doors opened and we managed to run/speed walk down the escalators and into the venue, past enough people to get on the rail. We were content.
The opening act was a DJ who kept the atmosphere chill with a mix of reggae, rock, blues, soul and funk vinyl. He played everything from Zeppelin to the Beastie Boys. It was great and a nice change from an opening band. Rather than having to pack up his stuff and set up for the Hip, he just had to wheel off a cart of equipment and the Hip took the stage.
The equipment was lined with Fully Completely banners and other than that was fairly simple. Finally, the Hip took the stage and played New Orleans is Sinking- a wonderfully energetic start to the night. The band played three more greatest hits before launching into the Fully Completely album and playing it front to back. This was wonderful. The set mixed between dropping three sheets down and playing classically Canadian scenery from a projector and full view of the band. Gord Downie was on fire. The last time we’d seen him he had almost been too over the top, but this time he was calculated and entertaining. His voice was in great shape, the crowd loved his energy and he just radiated that classic, Canadian Hip vibe. Sorry to focus so much on Gord. The rest of the band were their dependable selves. Each member is a talented musician who works with the eccentric front man. Although they are very withdrawn and not too lively, something about that suits the band. The highlight of this portion of the concert was of course, Wheat Kings.
About halfway through the show, a fight broke out in the audience. Without missing a beat, Gord drew attention to the fight, urging its participants to gain control of themselves and stop fighting (hence the above quotations). He seemed genuinely concerned and enraged that this had happened but the band continued the song and finished on a wonderful note, ending with “thank you music lovers”. Security broke up the fight.
When the Fully Completely album was done and the final note of Eldorado was played, the band left the stage. The audience was drawn into a chorus of shouting “HIP! HIP!HIP!” as at every Hip show and the band took the stage for a five-song encore not long after this. The Tragically Hip left everyone in a great mood, content with the amazing music they had heard that night. This was definitely one of the best Hip shows I’ve been to.