No Direction Home

I’m in Ottawa–and I’m tired. I overslept yesterday (does being tired because you’ve slept too much epitomize irony?), then stupidly woke up early this morning to watch Liverpool/Everton. And it’s gonna be another long day today, culminating in the annual Leafs/Sens game at the ‘Bank…which is where I was last night for yet another Tragically Hip concert (#17, in case you’re wondering).

(Jon, who is full of med student wisdom, just finished explaining why you’re more tired when you oversleep. It’s related to a steroid being released in your body. But I digress.)

Beforehand, Lindsay (Jon’s fiancee) and I met up with my friend Mel and her friend Maureen at our apparent Kanata haunt, East Side Mario’s. Then we headed over to Scotiabank Place, which has to be the runaway winner for Dumbest Arena Location Ever. Tonight’s seats were, uh, good: seventh row floors, right in front of Robbie Baker. But we weren’t feeling the Constantines, so we prepped for the Hip inside the arena’s cramped lower level concourse. I actually went to a Tim Hortons kiosk and ordered a medium double-double; it seemed too good an opportunity to pass up, a Tim Hortons coffee and a Tragically Hip concert in our nation’s capital.

Back in our seats, it was obvious last night’s crowd wasn’t going to be nearly as lame as the previous two. And when the lights went out and the band took the stage, I was actually allowed to stand without a “sit yo ass down!” from the people behind me.

  • Lonely End of the Rink
  • New Orleans is Sinking
  • Grace, Too
  • Bobcaygeon
  • Family Band
  • Ahead by a Century
  • In View
  • Poets (which I hadn’t heard live in a long time, actually)

I can’t remember what was happening–I think I was enterting all this into my phone–when the next song started. When it did, I froze. I knew what I was hearing–I’ve heard it a million times–but couldn’t believe it was happening in front of me. But it was, and it was something I never dreamed I’d hear:


Never. In. A. Million. Years. I knew they’d been playing it–it was resurrected at last year’s club tour in Calgary–but still wasn’t expecting to actually hear it. And it was magical. You could tell the band still has a hard time playing it; Gord ended it with a point to the heavens. But I’m glad it’s been pulled out, because it’s so good in concert.

  • World Container (an emerging favourite on the new album)
  • Springtime in Vienna
  • At the Hundredth Meridian
  • Long Time Running (again!)
  • The Kids Don’t Get It
  • Wheat Kings
  • Yer Not the Ocean
  • Three Pistols!
  • Blow at High Dough

The band leaves to rapturous applause, then returns with:

  • The Drop Off

Cover time! On this tour the Hip are playing a new, totally unique cover at every show; so far we’ve gotten Bowie, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, the Clash…it’s been an impressive roster, and it’s been made all the more impressive by the fact they haven’t repeated a single one. So anyway: they started playing; a split second later I thought, “No way, it can’t be”…but a few seconds after that Gord started singing, and it was, and ohmigod:


I shit you not: a full, bang-on cover of “Like a Rolling Stone”. I’m speechless; I am without speech. And it was nailed to the wall, even with Gord mixing up the second and fourth verses. The crowd, meanwhile, was spilling over into rapture at this point. The sing-a-long was spine-tingling. And all I could do was grin.

This lead to the inevitable

  • Little Bones

and that was it. Exit music (which is the Johnny Cash version of “Rusty Cage” by Soundgarden), house lights…and time for us to catch our breath. Incredible show–maybe the best Hip concert I’ve ever attended (Ottawa Bluesfest 2004 is still a contender, but the band didn’t cover “Like a Rolling Stone” at that one). It’s amazing what a great show, combined with a great crowd (which it was, all night long), can do. And I get to do it one last time next week in Toronto.

More later. I’ve gotta get this one going.


3 thoughts on “No Direction Home

  1. Jebus. That was a crazy show. I don’t think Toronto will be able to compare to that one. I’ll still love the show, don’t get me wrong, but with my luck The Hip will cover Freak On A Leash instead of Like A Rolling Stone. πŸ˜› 17 Hip shows – the Pearl Jam total may soon be in jeopardy. πŸ™‚

  2. It was ridiculous–good setlist, *great* crowd…honestly, don’t know how Toronto can top this one. Maybe Thugs/Fifty Mission Cap/a cover of Brand New Cadillac by the Clash would do it. πŸ˜‰

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