The Tragically Hip slapped the sillies right out of me last night, making me one helluva proud Canuck. Buying a ticket at last minute solely based on peer pressure from another building dwelling Canadian and an insatiable urge to keep my loving wife happy at all times, I begrudgingly made my way down to the ol’ TLA, hoping that witnessing this Canadian institution in modest little venue(compared to the hockey arenas they play back home) would be worth delaying the viewing of my current fixation that is Sons of Anarchy. With no openers and an 8:00pm start, my expectations of old wrinklys hobbling on stage to mail in another performance in a country where they’ve been vastly under appreciated were sure to be met.
Upon entering, acquiring beer, taking a head count of how many Team Canada jerseys were also in attendance and barely glancing at the merch booth, we found ourselves near the front of the stage chatting with a jolly fellow from St John’s, Newfoundland. “Figures,” I thought to myself, “move to Philly to watch The Hip with a Newfie who spits when he talks. I wonder if Jax has killed Clay yet?” But with the room full, but not packed, the lights go down and all thoughts of violent motorcycle gangs are forgotten tout de suite.
With the first chords of opener In Transformation, I’m taken home. Back to my homeland, where visualizing the prairies in the winter actually allows you to smell the cold, where 18 hours of darkness for seven months of the years isn’t so bad because Hey! there’s twelve months in a year! Back to the days when listening to Black Flag followed by The Tragically Hip followed by Eazy-E in frozen, fogged out cars was deemed the norm. It was wonderful, beyond nostalgic. The energy and charisma singer Gord Downie exudes onstage is intoxicating, wanting more of his spastic dances, more of his endless rants that don’t seem to make sense to anyone but him until the next song starts, more of the crazed eye contact that he is probably NOT making with you. And more music. Just play one more, please…
Every song was a highlight. The sound was fantastic. The crowd was 100% behind the band. Fuck T.V. and fuck violent motorcycle gangs. If I could go to a gig half that good every night, I’d renounce my sports team and throw my T.V. out the window. It’d be that simple. But alas, not every band can reach legendary status. If they could, there’d no longer be such a thing, would there? That’s how that works, right?