2009 Hip Tour > Song Selection > NOIS > Fantasy

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I always love it when I get the news that The Tragically Hip are ready to hit the road again. Calendars are checked and phone calls are made. Though I have gone off in many different musical directions and sought out some incredible live concert experiences, the fact remains that The Hip be the soundtrack to my high school years and the first big time rock & roll show I saw.

Those years were spent in Owen Sound, ON where the end of the school year brought became the beginning of the field party year. We'd usually arrive early by having the gear all packed the night before and cutting Friday afternoon classes. The party organizers would have the sound system set up and I remember perfect afternoons in May and June, shirts off, few arrivals so far, a real chill & friendly atmosphere and The Tragically Hip's Up to Here or Road Apples blaring away.

"Care for a beer?"

"Don't mind if I do."

I think I almost enjoyed the pre-party more than the party itself, when everyone got there, the warmth of the sun was lost and the various liquids, naturals and chemicals kicked in. That's when things got weird and usually out-of-hand. I guess the Moon Tower scene in Dazed and Confused would best describe it to a mass audience though the cars were from a different decade of course. Fuck I love that movie.

I see The Hip every chance I can. Not all chances. Sometimes I cannot. Take the Massey Hall run. I would like to have done all 5. My better half suggests there may be a slight monetary issue with this. Back in the day (bachelorhood) I would have shifted some stuff (food) and this would have happened. As it stands today, 2/5 is where I'm at. I figure 1/5 would be like regular season, 2/5 is like making the playoffs, and each additional show is like winning a playoff round with 5/5 being the Cup. This will be my first show at Massey Hall (unbelievable) and The Hip seem to be about the best I can think of to take my Massey virginity. I haven't been to Artpark so I have to admit I am a little interested in that as well. We'll see. It's a crazy world right now.

I have a lot of Hip road stories and funny adventures that I think it will be fun to write about. Situations that were comical, stressful, surreal, psychedelic and just plain weird. Have I seen the most Tragically Hip shows? No. Not even close. Have I been following them for longer than all of you? Some yes, some no. Doesn't matter. I'm writing. You're reading.

OK, it's 2009 and the Tragically Hip are getting ready to release their 12th studio album, We Are the Same. So far each album has been a little different from each of its predecessors, building on experience and maturing as they should all the while maintaining that essence of Hip. That is, you know a Hip song when you hear it. Not the voice, but the music. I think it says a lot for a band when you can take a handful of fans and ask them to declare their favorite album and each will give a different answer. I expect the same from this album. That it will be different and yet the same too.

"An Evening With...."

The 2009 Tragically Hip tour is taking a similar format to 2000's Music@Work tour in that there will be no opening act and The Hip will perform 2 sets at each show. This format gave fans on that past tour the treat of a deeper roster of songs from the Hip's cannon. About fucking time is what I say. This is something that is long overdo in my opinion. This is going to be great for the fans and for the band. Let's hope it sticks. Feel free to write the band and let them know.

In addition to being a big Tragically Hip fan I listen to endless hours of Grateful Dead and Phish, two bands who have always used the above mentioned format. I have followed these bands and their members in various bands all across North America doing multi-night runs. The difference though is that the DEAD & Phish don't put songs to bed. Bye-bye B-sides like. They find ways to have fun with them. Develop them. Now I know The Hip are not a jam band per se, but they got the improv skills. They have lots of those. Every time Gord goes off on a run they follow the mood up and down and sideways and backwards. All by the seat of their pants.

I really was debating whether I would go see The Hip again after the Feb 8, 2007 show at the ACC. That was the last show I purchased tickets for though my last show was April 20, 2007 in Boston. Yep. 4:20. Bob Marley cover. Had to. Ha ha! Birthday present from the sister. What a trip. Another story for another time however. I made no effort to see The Hip in 2008 even though opportunities were there. I felt I had already seen the show they were going to do. I had had that experience. I like a bit of a new experience each time. Some randomness.

I took issue with that Toronto show on Feb 8, 2007 and I'm going to tell you why. I felt like I was served the same meal twice. You see, I attended the Copps Coliseum show in Hamilton two days earlier. These venues are what, an hour apart? I'm sure I wasn't the only one to take up this outstanding opportunity to fill two dire February nights with some good old Canadian arena rock. And if you did do the double and are reading this now I'm sure you know exactly what I'm getting at. Here's the set-lists:

Copps Coliseum: Hamilton, ON: Canada: 02/06/2007

1: The Lonely End Of The Rink

2: New Orleans Is Sinking
3: Fully Completely
4: Boots Or Hearts
5: Yer Not The Ocean
6: Ahead By A Century
7: In View
8: Courage (For Hugh Maclennan)
9: Fiddler's Green
10: World Container
11: Springtime In Vienna
12: At The Hundredth Meridian
13: It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken
14: The Kids Don't Get It
15: Three Pistols
16: Wheat Kings
17: Family Band
18: My Music At Work
19: Blow At High Dough
20: Picture My Face
21: Grace, Too
22: Fire In The Hole

Air Canada Centre: Toronto, ON: Canada: 02/08/2007

1: The Lonely End Of The Rink
2: New Orleans Is Sinking
3: Fully Completely
4: Bobcaygeon
5: The Drop-Off
6: Ahead By A Century
7: In View
8: Poets
9: Fiddler's Green
10: World Container
11: Springtime In Vienna
12: At The Hundredth Meridian
13: Long Time Running
14: The Kids Don't Get It
15: Courage (For Hugh Maclennan)
16: Wheat Kings
17: Yer Not The Ocean
18: Fifty-Mission Cap
19: Blow At High Dough
20: Diamond Dogs
21: Family Band
22: Fire In The Hole
23: Little Bones

*Bold = Same song in same slot
**Italic = Same song, different slot

Notice anything? 16 songs were played in both shows. A 66% overlap with 12 of those 16 slotting in the EXACT same spot in the setlist. Boots or Hearts, Good Life, Three Pistols, M@W, Picture My Face (cover), Grace, Too were the 6 songs that were played in Hamilton and not in Toronto while Bobcaygeon (surprise), The Drop Off, Poets, Long Time Running (nice job BTW), 50MC, Diamond Dogs (cover) and Little Bones were the 7 songs played in Toronto and not Hamilton. All told, there were 45 songs played by the band over the span of these two shows. Of the 130+ original songs available to the band they brought us 27 (plus 2 covers).

The performance was great. The playing, the improv, the showmanship. Each show the band gave 110% and that's why I go see them. The Tragically Hip are a hard working band and I love them for it, but they are notorious for dropping songs from their live setlist IMMEDIATELY. I mean, why write the song? Why put it on an album? This was the World Container tour yet they couldn't sub Pretend for WC on one of the nights? Fly? Last Night I Dreamed?, Luv (Sic)? Are these songs on their way to irrelevance? Maybe thehip.com should have a song graveyard section where it is definitively stated, "We will never play these songs again." On the Verge can't be subbed for Fire in the Hole on one night?

I go into every show thinking, "This is the one where I get my Highway Girl. They're gonna dust it off and just have some fun with it. Tonight baby!" Since 1991 I've continually missed that little lady. I was SO excited after Fort York. Could not have been happier. Now that is how you do a two show run. Sherpa, The Wherewithal, Greasy Jungle, Lionized, Flamenco and of course the return of 38 Years Old. That might have been the moment for me. The highest of the highs. And then Hamilton/Toronto.

Why does this happen? I have heard many conspiracy theories.

"This or that song was just too personal. Too much emotional baggage."

"Gord's embarrassed by his early lyrics. He's a poet now, you know. What's a Cemetary Sideroad anyways?"

"The band has done all they can't with that song. It's not fun for them anymore."


Really? 'Put it Off' reached it's full potential? I remember seeing that song in Maple Leaf Gardens in 1996 I think it was, and the drumming was epic. I though it made for a great vehicle to showcase Johnny's skills.

I just don't buy the theory that the band gets tired of songs. It does not explain the New Orleans is Sinking phenomenon. Let's take a look at the entire 2007 year and specifically NOIS during that time. Give me some leeway here. I am quite aware of the high regard this song is given by fans, especially the casual ones that do want to hear certain songs every single time they buy a ticket. But fuck.

2007 saw The Tragically Hip play 104 shows in total. NOIS was played 98 times giving fans a 94% chance of seeing it on any given night. When the band played a venue one time only NOIS was played 100% of the time. The 6 shows that did not include NOIS were always 1 of 2 shows taking place on back-to-back nights at the same venue. Mar 9 in Buffalo, NY; Apr 13 in Detroit,MI; Apr 17 in Burlington, VT; May 12 in Chicago, IL; July 4 in Bala, ON; and Sept 25 in Amsterdam. Furthermore, 54 of those 98 NOIS's came in the 2nd slot. Like clockwork. Astute fans could have secured a beer in a bet with a casual fan.

"Betcha a beer NOIS is next."

"Shit. How'd you know? Lucky."

"Ship that beer dude." Ha ha.

And let's face it. This is not the same NOIS as the early 1990's. Not even fucking close. This is the going through the motions version. Remember when random songs were inserted in the middle? There were big build ups and the whole crowd new when to jump? They would light us all up so we could see everyone. Hands in the air. In sync. Do you get that feeling from this song anymore? I don't. If I didn't know it was coming it would be special when it did. Otherwise may I respectfully request a mid-set slot so I know I definitely have a bathroom break/new beer song. Thanks in advance.

The Hip are just too good to be going through the motions. They've written too many good songs only to see them put to pasture. Randomness. No one can tell me this isn't good for the band and for us, the audience. These guys should be ready to play any one of 80 songs on any given night. The paper taped to the floor should be a guide not a must. If something comes outta nowhere this band has the skills to let it fly. On the fly. Fly. Anyone been to Moon Beam, ON?

My only other issue with The Hip is announcing the song before every song. We know, we know Gord. And if we don't figure it out right away, well that's part of the fun. With more tapers and now having the Live Vault Series I think this takes away from those as well. If people don't recognize a song they will interact with others or maybe go home and look it up on the Internet. Search it out. Buy an album. Download a Hip torrent.

"When you're in a gun fight don't just bring two pistols. Whatcha really need is THREE PISTOLS!!!" We know, we know. Road Apples is a classic. Most of us have bought multiple times. Just rock it. We'll figure it out. Trust me. Trust us.

That's it. I've been wanting to put those thoughts into words for a while now. I began this out of love for a band and I said those thinks for that reason. From here it's all forward>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

We Are the Same. You know I never like a Hip album on first listen, but there isn't one that I don't love. Day for Night perplexed me upon first listen, but now it might just be the one. The one if I were making a list that would go on top. This is a fluid list though. Where will WATS settle in amongst its peers? I'll be honest. I have high hopes. Just not on the first listen :)

In leading up to the album and the tour I've decided to have a little fun doing some Fantasy Hip. This will keep with the theme of this post and is a way to express my excitement for the upcoming tour format. This is a setlist design game. Here are the parameters:

-> The format is 2 sets, 14-16 songs per. One encore with two songs max. No double and triple encore bullshit.

-> A setlist can NEVER contain a song from the previous setlist.

-> A setlist can grab a maximum of 3 songs from the 2nd previous setlist. Therefore Setlist C can take no songs from Setlist B and a maximum of 3 songs from Setlist A.

-> Have fun with it. A set does not necessarily need to end with a heavy hitter. Wheat Kings could shut down a first set nicely. Sometimes it's nice to set the crowd down gently. Just saying. Randomness.

I am going to post the first Tragically Hip Fantasy Setlist below and a new one will be posted every 3 days or so leading up to the tour. It would be great if some were sent in. I only ask that you number it. For example "This is my proposal for Setlist #2". I will only post one and that will be the one that we work off for the next and the next, etc. Fell free to include random thoughts on songs and positions and explain why if you like. Also if you have a website or blog (personal or Hip) I will give you a link back so others can get to know you too. I am aware that this may be just me. The blog is new and my readership as far as I can tell is hovering around 1 including me.

Comments & criticisms are encouraged please.

Cheers all.

mrjackstraw

TRAGICALLY HIP FANTASTY SETLIST #1

Set I: Last of the Unplucked Gems > Lake Fever, She Didn't Know, Yawning or Snarling, My Music @ Work, Heaven is a Better Place Today, Don't Wake Daddy, Eldorado, Fireworks, Opiated, Kids Don't Get It, Greasy Jungle, Three Pistols, It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken

Set II: Vapour Trails, Use It Up, Summer's Killing Us, Boots or Hearts, Born in the Water, Courage, Looking for a Place to Happen, In View, Sherpa, Freak Turbulence, An Inch an Hour, 700ft Ceiling, 100th Meridian > Cordelia > 100th Meridian

E: Pretend, Thugs



Setlist notes: I've always had this vision of a curtain blocking the view of the stage and the band taking their place and opening with LOTUG. You know on the album how it gets louder. I see the curtain rising up with the volume revealing the band. Then without any announcement whatsoever from Gord, segue perfectly into Lake Fever. I like the way some songs flow on albums and you get used to hearing these combos. I did this with Courage - LFAPTH mid 2nd set. I think the finish from Freak to the Meridian reprise would be monstrous. Thugs is just a cool fucking song. Hope you enjoyed!
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