The Tragically Hip - Vancouver Fantasy Setlists

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The Tragically Hip are due to play 3 shows in September at Vancouver's Orpheum Theatre. These shows are, in essence, Vancouver's stop on the 'Now For Plan A' tour. This was a tour that saw Canada's 3rd largest metropolis shut out of the large scale arena shows that his many other places for whatever reason. The thing is that Vancouver fans many end up getting the last laugh.

Instead of an arena rock show, Tragically Hip fans here will be treated to a three night run in an intimate setting a la the 'We Are The Same' tour of 2009. But will their setlist creativity take us back in time? Or will Vancouverites who shelled out big time be spoon fed the same meal night after night after night. This is the question.

For me, a fan since back in the day and a fan of never doing the same thing twice, the past few years have been kind of heartbreaking with this band. Everything that the 2009 WATS tour was the 2012/13 NFPA tour isn't. I thought 2009 was a high water mark moment for the band. I mark 1991 & 1995 as the other two that stand out to me. Lots of other great eras as well, but those stand out to me.

I feel like these were also the times when the band took the most risks, or a lot of risks anyway. In 1991 their sound was evolving from heavy blues rock to something more free and opening up to spaces that would eventually allow the band to take off in many directions instead of staying firmly within a genre. By 1995 the band was a cohesive musical force. One member played of another. Songs went to places that they hadn't ever before. You could actually see a new version of an old song made up right there on the spot. The jamming, both heavy and soft and especially during the stories and the rants was really something to behold. Different songs could appear within NOIS. The setlist didn't have to instruct the band to insert a Nautical. 2009 saw The Hip touring with keys, adding some great songs to the live repitoire and owning more of the night - meaning playing two sets plus an encore. They carried a lot of songs around with them that tour and played them all quite well. The acoustic portion was used to resurrect song that had been put down, to rearrange popular songs such as Courage & My Music At Work and to show a song live for the first time ever (The Bear).

And then 2011 > 2012 > 2013.... WTF happened? Does anybody know? Where did my favourite band go? How do you create an opus like The Depression Suite and then just drop it from the live act? Poof! Gone. These last few years have made me want to go to the depression suite. I haven't even bothered to download live shows from this era.

It's not that I'm some kind of old-timer just clamoring for the old hits. You can kill off most of the "hits" for all I care... or spread them out at least. There were about 6 songs off of the new album that basically never saw the light of day. I don't need Bobcaygeon everyday. I also don't need World Container or Pretend everyday, but I need them some days. Bobcaygeon is so much cooler when you don't know it's coming and maybe you've seen your last few shows without catching it and then FINALLY you hit it again!... and it's a great moment.

When does a band become a charicature of itself? I think it when it stops taking chances and rests on its laurels. I'm not insinuating that The Hip have hit this point yet. They are on the path. Aerosmith has hit this point if you're looking for an example.

And what's up with Gord? He's never been worse. Ever. Take a breath. We're just talking here. But really, what's up? Teleprompter when the setlist is exactly the same every night. The screaming not singing and doing so in such a way that the crowd let alone his bandmates can reasonably lend support with harmonies that somewhat resemble the original song. No more state of consciousness rants, chants, poems, etc.

Is he sick? Forgetful? Doesn't seem that way when he gives interviews. He's aged more than the rest of the guys, it seems to me anyway. I don't know.

So... Vancouver. Here's the situation. We have a 2009 set-up, but the 2013 band. What's going to happen? Is the guy who payed $120+/night for all three nights going to get basically the same show each night or is he going to come away having seen no repeats at all and maybe 70+ different Hip songs performed live and feeling like it was totally worth it? You see, there was a time when I wouldn't have missed something like this. Small venue. In Canada. Three night. Endless possibilities. Now I just feel like meh... I saw the band this past December in L.A. and was going to go back up for the Anaheim show. It ended up raining that day and I just said 'Fuck It'... Slippery roads, crazy drivers, L.A. Douche Bags... I knew what the band was going to play for the most part. 80% of the setlist was already known to me and I have just seen it. And SoCal ain't no Hip HotBed. Who knows if they'll ever be back? And it was raining. That's all it took.

The Hip have been doing 18 song sets with 5 or 6 song encores (so weird).... I want to publish people's 3 night fantasy setlists in this format. If you want the same show 3 nights in a row, fine. If you want it to be absurd (ex. Highway Girl), fine. If you want it to be somewhat realistic based on what they've played, great. Include your made up fantasy setlist for each of the 3 nights and include your name and any notes you may want to add.

Send all entries to mrjackstraw (at)

Do not give that out to any Nigerian scammers please.

I'm going to do one of each type. I'll do a Vancouver run ultimate fantasy setlist for each night that includes song that have ZERO chance of being played and I will also do one that will have somewhat of a chance...

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