2013 Summer Tour - Thoughts & Expectations

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Photo credit: The Tragically Hip on Flickr

The Tragically Hip are set to kick off their 2013 Summer Tour in a few weeks and while it's not as extensive as some tours past in terms of performance dates it is going to be extensive in total miles traveled. Currently there are 21 shows in 19 cities in 5 countries on 2 continents covering 24,240.6KM / 15,062.3MI as the crow flies from city to city. The average distance between shows is 1154.3KM and if you remove the one London, ENG show and 2 Vancouver, BC shows that are non-travel dates and the average distance jumps up to 1346.7KM between individual tour stops. Now it's not like all of this is packed into a month, but even at just under 3 months with down-time... that's fucking crazy. A travel agent's dream. A roadie's nightmare.  I've followed bands on entire summer tours in the past and this one is pretty much undo-able from a fan perspective.

The 'Now For Plan A' Fall/Winter Tour was the least amount of touring off an album I can remember The Hip ever doing and this was coming off of two minimalist summer tour schedules in 2011 & 2012. There were only 39 shows for the entire tour that noticeably left out some major Canadian cities (Calgary, Ottawa, Vancouver, Quebec City & St. John's) and a good chunk of the US including the southeast, Florida & Texas. By comparison the 2009 'We Are The Same Tour' consisted of 88 shows including the European portion. Of course we've all heard of Gord dealing with his wife's breast cancer and who knows what else within the band's circles. Life happens to everybody. Also, the band is at a point where they can dictate their terms. They don't play for food & shelter.

So what are we going to see from the band this summer? Will it be a continuation of the type of setlists we saw this past fall/winter? Will it revert back to what happened over the past 2 summers of 2011 & 2012 which dare I say might have been the low point in the live concert careers of the band. The exact same uninspired setlist every night with little to no jamming, monologues and singing. I feel kind of bad for new Hip fans who just saw their first show either of the past 2 summers.

Blasphemy? No. Everything deserves to be compared to the entire body of work. The entire body of work in this case is the band's live career. I literally almost pulled the plug on this website when I saw replica setlists night after night. Seriously. Has there ever been a period in Hiphistory that you've ever seen anything like that? Even on off-touring years? And this all began a mere 5 years after the summer of 2006 which I thought might have been the band's strongest non-album touring period. Awesome setlist variety, net songs, a fresh order to things. Of course, as I mentioned above, there were circumstances at play which were playing out behind closed doors. It takes rehearsal time to carry around a large bag of tunes, even if you've been playing them for years and years. 

I hope the summer of 2013 doesn't bring us what the past 2 summers have. Especially with the ticket prices that are being charged. These guys should be a 2 set band every night they play, but that's another topic altogether. What I'm hopeful of is that the cities in Canada that were denied a 'Now For Plan A' tour stop actually get a chance to see a deep cuts, solid Tragically Hip show as opposed to a festival/greatest hits setlist.

The NFPA Tour did go fairly deep. Not as deep as the WATS tour of 2009, but it was nice to see that the band could juggle a larger song rotation than they had been during the previous 2 summers. The shows were very solid. Gord sang the new songs.

Europe has always been an inspirational atmosphere for the band. I think a lot of bands feel like they can go over there and just let loose and throw a bit of caution into the wind and good results have usually followed. Dead '72. Phish '97. Hopefullt The Hip head back from their own European jaunt with some new inspiration... maybe a new song or two...

Montreal, Ottawa & Grand Falls run the biggest risks of getting the festival setlist treatment. I mean, Grand Falls for sure. The Hip have to open for another band in Canada that isn't The Stones or RUSH? I'd throw down all the hits, wind the crowd way up and say, "Follow that Eagles." 

Most of the others could go either way. It's Vancouver that's the big question mark. The potential for a 3 day masterpiece is there. It's all going to depend on how the tour unfolds to that point. If they are dropping even 1 or 2 songs a night that are unique to that particular show on the summer tour they will roll into Vancouver with an arsenal of songs at the forefront of their consciousness that could lead to a pretty epic 3 night run at the gorgeous Orpheum Theatre.

If I'm writing setlists for a band with as deep a song catalog as The Hip and I know that a good chunk of the $100+/per ticket crowd will be there for the entire run there's no way I'm repeating a song at all. I mean it took Furthur 6 shows into their 9 show run at the Capitol in April before they repeated... The Hip can tear down the house at the Orpheum all three nights without repeating a song. I'll tell you what... we're going to design setlists to prove it. And we'll keep it realistic. We all know 'Highway Girl' ain't coming, so let's just put that one to bed. Stay tuned on this....

So what are you looking forward to this summer from The Hip? What shows are you going to? What do you want to hear that's old?... that's new? that's different? What do you love about The Hip concert experience? Hate? New fans - does the older catalog hold any cache with you? Old fans - are you down with the new stuff? What songs do you wish you could hear just one more time live?

There's a lot I'd like to see & hear from the band. We're go into making some fantasy setlists later and especially as we move towards the Vancouver shows. I'd really like to see them tour with a full time keyboardist. It bring more songs into the fold. Good songs. It also adds nice textures to some of the old song. I'd like more jamming too (and the keys would help with this too). I'm now talking jamband style here. Just a bit more of what got them here in the first place. 

And Thirty-Eight Years Old. Like, just fucking play it. Why play Century or Bobcaygeon EVERY SINGLE NIGHT??? I mean, the fans love it.... 

Sneak Peek: Coffee Girl Tee

2013/06/20 Cobourg, ON
2013/06/22 Montreal, QC

2013/06/25 Antwerp, BE
2013/06/26 Utrecht, NL
2013/06/28 Hengelo, NL
2013/06/29 Amsterdam, NL
2013/07/01 London, ENG (FREE)
2013/07/02 London, ENG

2013/07/05 Cold Lake, AB
2013/07/06 Saskatoon, SK
2013/07/08 Estevan, SK
2013/07/11 Ottawa, ON
2013/07/13 Grand Falls, NFLD
2013/07/19 Buffalo, NY
2013/07/20 Aurora, IL
2013/07/25 London, ON
2013/09/06 Moose Jaw, SK
2013/09/07 Calgary, AB
2013/09/09 Vancouver, BC
2013/09/10 Vancouver, BC
2013/09/12 Vancouver, BC

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