I can sum up the Tragically Hip concert with one instant of awesomeness. During the song “Long Time Running” people actually took out their lighters. None of this cell phone nonsense…but actual lighters. The moment was beautiful. The whole arena lit up with miniature flames swaying back and forth. Even after thousands of thumbs were burned, the lights would extinguish for a second and joyfully reignite in the darkness. The crowd came alive and sang the song under the ambient lighting. This was one of many memorable points of the night!
The Arkells opened for the Hip…which to any band must be a very daunting task. They killed it. The band’s drive pumped everyone up for the main event. The crowd exploded during “Oh the Boss is Coming” yelling the chorus at the top of their lungs. The set was energetic and hard-hitting leaving everyone’s vocal chords raw!
Then the Tragically Hip took the stage, escorted by hoots and hollers. Gord Downie is so entertaining on stage. He never does the same thing twice. He changes the rhythm of lyrics and adds new parts when the mood strikes him. His mannerisms and interaction with the crowd is hilarious. With a hankie in hand, he playfully uses it as a sail…blowing on it to move across the stage. At times the crowd sang songs so loudly he would let them take over pretending to forget the words; scratching his head he would fight bouts of induced amnesia with reassurances that the crowd was singing it correctly “Oh yeah…right right! That’s how it goes.”
The set ended with “Blow at High Dough.” After at least two minutes of endless cheering and yelling, the band reemerged from the shadowed fringes. During “50 Mission Cap,” the first song of a five song encore, a spotlight was shone on Bill Birilko’s memorial banner to the crowd’s delight. Canadian songstress Sarah Harmer later joined the band on stage with a powerful duet of “Now for Plan A.”
I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Valentines Day!