TicketMOMster review: The Tragically Hip @ MTS Centre
I haven’t listened to any Tragically Hip music since “The News”. This year has been the worst hasn’t it? All of our musical heroes are proving that no one is immortal.
While their deaths are heartbreaking, the news of Gord Downie’s brain cancer hit me the hardest. I just couldn’t listen to him sing after it was announced. It was too close to home, too painful. This is not other-worldly Prince or David Bowie. This is Gord; Canada’s poet. He’s a member of our band.
I’ll admit, I’ve been taking The Hip for granted. They put out an album, I buy it; they come to town, I go to their show. It’s almost like a reflex; it’s what I do.
I don’t know why I never thought that would come to an end. Maybe because the band is still so “young”. Maybe I thought they would keep touring well into their 70’s and then we’d all whisper that maybe it was time to pack it in. I feel like I’ve been robbed of that chance. That chance to watch them decline. Because I’ll tell you right now, judging from tonight’s performance, that would have been MANY years into the future.
With “The News”, came a sense of urgency for me. I HAD to go to that show; I would pay anything to see them. I collected three presale passwords and after being totally shut out of the first presale, I started to stress out.
I buy TONS of concert tickets every year. I buy more tickets than anyone I know. I’m not a bot, I know every store front, truck and tree on that Ticketmaster system. And yet, I couldn’t get a ticket.
The next presale came and I was completely kicked out of the system and couldn’t get back in. On the third day, I tried and tried and every time there were no tickets available. Then I was kicked off the system again. I tried repeatedly to get back on. Half an hour after the presale started, I shut down my computer and rebooted. Half-heartedly, I tried again and again…and then suddenly, I saw it.
FLOOR ROW 11.
I swear to God, I almost had a stroke. I rubbed my eyes to make sure that’s what I was seeing. I could probably buy tickets on Ticketmaster in my sleep, but I still read and re-read all the instructions very carefully. I held my breath until I received the order confirmation in my inbox. The tickets were mine. And then I went for a nap because I was so wired, stressed out and exhausted. Thank you The Disney Channel for babysitting my child during this whole ordeal.
The day of the show came and I was nervous. If listening to their music was too emotional for me, how could I possibly make it through this show? What would I write? That I bawled my eyes out the whole time? I applied a new waterproof mascara, just in case.
My Husband and I got there early and I spent a small fortune at the merch booth. Then we sat in our seats; I’ve never sat that close to the stage in my life. Everyone around me was buzzing with excitement. Women were squealing about how close they were to the stage.
Five minutes before the show started, the crowd was electric. Everyone was standing, whistling and howling.
At 8:30 sharp, the band took the stage and there he was…in his shiny green suit with his top hat; he looked amazing. The whole arena stood and cheered. Everyone.
They started the show with the super appropriate At The Hundredth Meridian and then went into Pigeon Camera. The first few songs sounded a bit shaky to me, but everyone warmed up in no time.
The stage set up was very intimate, with the band members surrounding Gord, circling him, almost protecting him. It was the most intimate arena performance I’ve ever seen. You could literally see the love and appreciation in their eyes for him. Or maybe I’m projecting; because I certainly felt that.
Through Courage and Wheat Kings I watched him. I took in every move he made, every gesture, every dance step. I watched his band watch him with lingering glances; were they cementing these moments in their minds too? He doesn’t look sick. Everyone looks healthy, full of life. Is this really the end?
There was a short intermission after four tracks from Man Machine Poem. A thunderstorm at the lake was projected on the screen, followed by the pink sky after a storm. The microphones were moved further from Gord’s and they played four tracks off Now For Plan A, while Gord danced and sang in his gold suit. At Transformation was my favourite of the four.
Escape Is At Hand For The Traveling Man and Bobcaygeon were beautiful and the crowd loved Poets. They played Membership for Lori (?) and then Gord left the stage to change into his blue suit while the band played one of my favourite road trip songs, The Last Of The Unplucked Gems. White polls came down from the ceiling all around the stage. Then the band ripped into Little Bones and the polls lit up all different colours. It was really flashy and out of character for The Hip, but it was super cool and I loved it.
During The Luxury my Husband whispered to me “This is pretty f#@%ing awesome eh?” I couldn’t agree more. I could literally see the whites of the band member’s eyes. We were so close and they were playing the songs of our lives.
And then it happened. Rob Baker played Long Time Running and Gord went over and hugged him. My throat closed and I looked over at my Husband. His eyes were glassy and the tears rolled down my face. The song ended with everyone chanting “Gordie! Gordie!”
Twist My Arm ended the show and the band left Gord on stage by himself. He slowly walked around the stage thanking everyone while we applauded and yelled for him. I cried and cried.
The first encore included Boots Or Hearts, Opiated and a super rocking version of New Orleans Is Sinking. Gord hugged and kissed his bandmates and thanked us for all the years of support.
The second encore included Springtime In Vienna and Ahead By A Century. Everyone said goodbye again. Gord’s last words before he left the stage were “Grateful…grateful…”
Me too Gord…me too. Thank you.
P.S. Every year I rank my top five favourite shows of the past year. SPOILER ALERT: This show will be #1.
TicketMOMster is a Rock and Jazz-loving Mom; single-handedly keeping Ticketmaster alive in Winnipeg. Follow her musical journey here: www.facebook.com/TicketMOMsters