What the Poets Are Doing

If you’re a fan of the Tragically Hip and you’ve got half-an-hour to kill, then definitely head to the band’s official website and check out their video from Salmon Fest in Grand-Falls Windsor, Newfoundland. In retrospect, I should’ve heeded the warning that this is “not your typical 3 minutes vide [sic],” because I just wrote off a good chunk of my morning by watching it. And that said, if you’ve ever wondered how a major rock band prepares for a show then you need to watch it; the vide features, among other things, a performance of “The Dire Wolf” from the band’s soundcheck, Gord Downie giving the filmmaker a solo rendition of “Springtime in Vienna” on the damndest-looking guitar you’ve ever seen, a pre-show jam session in which Paul Langlois proves once and for all how utterly useless he actually is, the band’s walk to the stage (my favourite part; I’ve always enjoyed watching backstage concert footage, and yes, this helps explain why girls didn’t talk to me until after second year) and performances of no fewer than four songs…including the first-ever playing of a new song called “No Threat” (which is due to appear on the band’s forthcoming greatest hits package Hipeponymous). If you’re like me and your faith in the Tragically Hip was shattered by Live 8, this outta restore it; during the live footage I found myself exhaling and saying, “Thank goodness–they’re back.”

On a related note, how good is Day for Night? Talia and I have had at least seventy-eight extended conversations about the “best” Tragically Hip album, and while we’ve usually ended up declaring a tie between Day for Night, Road Apples and Fully Completely I’m willing to now declare that Day for Night is unequivocally my favourite Hip release. Off the top of my head I can’t think of a better stretch of songs than the “So Hard Done By” / “Nautical Disaster” / “Thugs” trio…not to mention “Grace, Too”, “Greasy Jungle”, “Yawning or Snarling”, “Emergency”, “Impossiblium”…honestly, almost every song is masterful. In fact, while we’re at it, here’s how I’d rank the band’s albums (not including the EP or Live Between Us):

  1. Day for Night
  2. Road Apples
  3. Fully Completely
  4. In Between Evolution
  5. Phantom Power
  6. Up to Here
  7. In Violet Light
  8. Trouble at the Henhouse
  9. Music at Work

This list is subject to major overhaul, of course…but the more I think of it, the more Day for Night is solidifying its hold atop the list. Such a great album.

As for the forthcoming greatest hits/DVD/box set, I like what I’m seeing. (And by the way, in case you needed any more proof that Gord Downie worships at the altar of Michael Stipe, just look at the title.) I’m particularly excited to see the DVD–a.k.a. That Night in Toronto, which was filmed on November 26, 2004 with Talia and I in attendance (at various points in the evening we had the cameras pointed directly in our faces…if you see a random Minnesota North Stars ringer t with an oversized head coming out the top, you’re probably looking at me). It wasn’t the best Tragically Hip concert I’ve seen and the setlist was woefully predictable (c’mon, “Silver Jet”?), but the performance was beyond reproach. Plus, hearing “Grace, Too” at the Air Canada Centre will never get tired no matter how many times it happens (currently three and counting). It all comes down November 1; I feel as though a midnight madness sale is in order to satiate the die hards between us.

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2 thoughts on “What the Poets Are Doing

  1. THough Day for night is up there, i could not agree less with your ranking. we’ve been over it. your dislike of Music at work never ceases to amaze me. Phantom power #4? you must be drunk. how excited am i getting for 9/16???and see you this weekend – oh my god.

  2. To be completely fair, Phantom Power is at #5, not #4. 😉Also, if you’re calling me out to justify my list, you and I both know I’m capable of 2,000 words. On each album. Just say the word. 🙂

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