A little musical news: last night I went to the Orpheum for a concert that I’ve been waiting 20 years to see–The Tragically Hip.
And yes, they were everything I could have asked. One of the tightest bands I’ve ever seen, and Gordon Downie is still an amazingly powerful performer. His whole body thrums with energy on stage, and he is in amazing shape for a man of any age. He moves like liquid iron, poured into a suit in the shape of a man.
And yes, they did play a lot of their old stuff, which of course delighted me, because their old stuff is really what I was there to see. A song from their first self-titled album, a song from “Up to Here” and one from “Road Apples”, songs from “Fully Completely” and “Phantom Power”. What delighted me most were the songs they played from “Trouble at the Henhouse”, though, because some of them were so unexpected.
“Flamenco” has always been one of my favorite Hip songs, and has a lot of personal meaning for me–never expected to hear it live, because it was never a “hit” per se.
The music critic who reviewed the show for the Sun was a typical self-loathing Canadian hipsterdouche, sadly. The one deplorable habit of Canadians trying to be “cool” is to loathe their own artists above and far beyond the call of duty. It seems at times that the one thing you can do to make your fellow Canadians hate you most, as a Canadian entertainer, is to break out of obscurity and achieve any real fame or popularity. If too many people want to buy your albums or see your show, suddenly all your fellow Canadians feel obligated to shiv you with irrelevant hypercritical nattering.
It’s depressingly similar to the way a lot of subaltern communities around the world will respond if you manage to get a college education, release a hit record, or do anything else that might possibly give you a ticket out of the ghetto. Insert your own snarky joke about “the primitive peoples of Canuckistan” here, I guess…
Nonetheless, as one of the “fans who still go crazy” for a great band performing great music–I was genuinely happy to see this concert. This was the first time that I was able to get a ticket to see this band, despite having been a fan since the early 1990’s. And even now I wouldn’t have had the chance to see them if my best friend hadn’t snagged two tickets at once and brought me along with him. Typically local shows from the Hip are sold out very quickly after a gig is announced, and this third show at the Orpheum was no exception.
It was a great experience, and one I’d waited for a very long time. And I’m grateful that the Hip are still willing to come out and play a selection of material they’ve released over the course of a long and rich career for fans like me, who have been following their progress and buying their albums for all these years.
In short? I’m sorry, hipsterdouche: not every band has to be a 20-something one-hit-wonder that was just pumped out of a hype machine five minutes ago. There is room on the music scene for veteran players who have made a huge musical contribution spanning decades. And personally, I’m happy to see they can still rock.