For my money you can’t really beat the early Hip Stuff! ( I was lucky catching them live in 1988 and 1990 as that certainly helps the cause ) Case in point this Bootlegged album called Roxy & Elsewhere which states on the back of the cd was recorded in Los Angeles (May 1991) and Elsewhere.
The Hip Dudes as in Bobby Baker/Paul Langlois/Gord Sinclair/Gord Downie and Johnny Fay have there own style and it’s a tilt in the direction of Bar Room Boogie Rock!
Touring in support of what is my fav album of their’s Road Apples The Hip assault the L.A crowd and knock em on their asses!
The music is top-notch and Gord well what can you say Folk’s? There’s two Gord classic stories on here one of which is during Highway Girl where Gord talks about the Double Suicide story which is an all time great! Listen to it below…
The second Classic story coming from Gordie is his Killer Whale Tank rant during New Orleans Is Sinking. Video is posted as well below…
The Band and Gord( His improv Dialogue is just classic) take it up a whole notch on Killer Whale Tank! The Band is on Fire!
About A Week Ago My Best Pal T-Bone Scored The Ticket OF A Lifetime To This Show! When He Emailed The News My Return Message Was “Awesome And Review Please!” By Golly T-Bone Delivered Folk’s! Read On & Thanks T…… For Sharing…..
The famous quote from baseball’s Yogi Berra may never be more eloquently or bravely portrayed than the performance being given by one Mr. Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip who is demonstrating to all of Canada that “It ain’t over till it’s Fuckin’ over!” (Under the circumstances I felt the F-Bomb was a justified ad lib here.) A little piece of Canada appears to be dying right before our eyes and I don’t even understand how it can be so painful and yet on some level, so beautiful. But don’t let Mr. Downie see your tears of sadness because he’s on a mission to bring one last tour of celebration and joy to an entire nation. And he is delivering like a defiant mother-fucker!
I know one word cannot sum up the powerful performance I am so grateful to have witnessed on Friday Aug 5, 2016 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, but the one word I have that comes close is, “Wow!” I was awestruck at the magnitude of the moment and only hope my almost 50-year-old mind allows me to store this memory away forever in safe keeping. Although I cannot profess to be the biggest Hip fan in the country because there are just so many down-right serious fanatics, make no mistake I am a Fan. A proud Canadian fan. This was the fifth time I have seen them perform live (not sure I have seen any other band more) and I also have owned many of their original albums while in more recent years having downloaded most of their entire back catalogue on i-tunes. The Hip are one of those bands that transcend their music to be more than a band, more than a mere ensemble of musicians but rather rise to a level of becoming an iconic representation of the country they are obviously so proud to call home. And in return we are only too proud to call them ours. Fuck you to the rest of the world. You have no idea what you’re missing out on. (In true Canadian fashion, I apologize if my last statement offends anyone. But I hope you get my point).
Gord’s lyrics along with the bands grass roots, blue collar blend of rock, blues & country styles took on deeper meaning than usual on this night. “Get Ry Cooder to sing my eulogy”? I mean “Come on!” it’s only the first song and I’m already choking back some waves of emotion. But I am pounding my fist in the air, standing in my seat like I owe him at least that much. Two songs later he’s singing about Courage and schooling us on the meaning of it. This is so awesome yet emotionally difficult to watch at the same time. Around this point the first of many chants of “Gordie, Gordie, Gordie…” erupts from the crowd. Next it’s Wheat Kings and where in the country does this song carry any greater meaning than Winnipeg? And from the roars the band knows that the Wheat Kings came to rock tonight. A couple songs later and Gordie tells us he’s ‘Tired as Fuck’ and I don’t even want to pretend to know what he’s going through right now but, Wow! This is Heavy. The first set closes with a couple of new songs from ‘Man Machine Poem’, “What Blue” and “In a World Possessed by the Human Mind” which sound fantastic live. This night is just so damn powerful to this point that I am already running out of words and phrases to express how amazing I feel this performance is. By the first brief intermission I am somewhat relieved for the opportunity to take a break from the emotional roller coaster. It is at this point I want to make one thing perfectly clear, because reading back over what I’ve written thus far one might think I’m describing a weak, frail, dying man that can barely perform. This could not be further from the truth. I know Gord Downie is very sick and as a result likely weakened from treatments and he is somewhat visibly frail but this man is leaving it all on the ice here. His voice is fantastic, his usual quirky signature stage moves are at times dramatic and humourous at others as we’ve grown to expect. During his time on stage he never stops moving. And his will to deliver the best show possible under the circumstances is just down right inspirational.
Another thing I should point out. Although I am obviously very hung up on Gord’s performance due to his present situation. Let it be known that the importance and gravity of the moment are not lost on the other members of the band who are equally important and impressive in delivering on this night. Let’s face it, this has to be difficult for them as well and they all play with hearts firmly on sleeves while pouring everything they’ve got into their playing which is perfect in tempo, synchronicity and groove this is a group of well-seasoned individual musicians who collectively are a powerful force especially in a live setting. Johnny Fay and Gord Sinclair are the foundation and engine that drives each song, while lead guitarist Rob Baker tastefully colours between the lines of the grooving rhythm laid down by Paul Langlois. These guys don’t play like it’s a job, they play like they love it and they mean it. They know what’s at stake and they will not disappoint.
I cannot go throught the entire set list song by song or I will end up repeating myself at nauseam, so instead highlights for me during what I will refer to as the second set are “Man-Machine-Poem”, “Poets”, “Bobcaygeon” and then following Phantom Power’s “Membership” there is another pseudo-intermission where Gord leaves the stage briefly (Wardrobe change) and the rest of the band remains to jam in his absence.
Following this break Gord re-joins the band for what is a mini ‘Road Apples’ set which begins with “Last of the Unplucked Gems”, “Little Bones” and “The Luxury”. Then during “Long Time Running” (One of my all-time favourites) I scared half the audience around me as I belted this one out as loud as I could as if I wanted Gordie himself to hear me. This set then closes with yet another ‘Road Apples’ classic “Twist My Arm”.
At this point all of the band with the exception of Gord (Downie) exit the rear of the stage and he remains alone under a spotlight, does not say a word but slowly and deliberately walks about all four sides of the stage, saluting the crowd and doing his very best it seems to try and make eye-contact and give a personal good-bye to all 16,000+ in attendance. The roar of the crowd during this whole time which felt like it lasted at least 10 minutes just progressively got louder and the weight of emotion in the building became almost unbearable. At this point I only stopped my aggressive clapping momentarily from time to time to wipe my eyes because at this point I couldn’t take it anymore. I don’t care who can see… I am moved to tears.
When Gord finally did exit the stage there was no doubt this crowd wasn’t letting these guys go anywhere. Another chant of “Gordie, Gordie, Gordie…” (probably the fifth so far on the night to this point) roars through the rafters. And yes, I am yelling my fool-ass-off as well.
The crowd continues to roar but even if you weren’t looking you knew the band was climbing back on-stage as the roar finds yet another gear. This place is cooking! “Boots or Hearts”, “Opiated” and a little ditty no-one has probably ever heard of (something about New Orleans sinking) are played and the energy level remains at full fever pitch. Just before exiting the stage from this encore set Gord embraces each member of the band individually making meaningful eye contact with each of his long-time mates and has some words for them which from my vantage point looks like a “This is our last time in Winnipeg” moment. The band waves, the crowd roars and the boys exit the stage yet again.
More chants “Gordie, Gordie, Gordie …” The Peg knows this is it and they aren’t ready to say goodbye just yet and even if the fat lady was singing, you wouldn’t have been able to hear her. “What do ya say boys. Let’s give the ol’ Wheat Kings a couple more for ol’ time sake?” And so they do….
“Springtime in Vienna” and an emotional finale of “Ahead by a Century” where the line “The disappointing you’s getting me down” is powerfully repeated many times by Gordie as if to say “I’m sorry, I didn’t plan it this way”. Cymbal crash, Deafening Roar, Waves, Salutes, Emotion … and then ‘goodbye’ … Over!
“Wow!” As I said before it’s the only word I have.
This review was originally posted back in Oct/14. It was decided by the WordPress Community(a week ago) to toss down a Hip Friday! Take the time to check out everyone’s Blogs that I have set up by clicking the links below…
I tried doing a Top Whatever list of Hip Music but the first four albums are so good it was tuff to narrow it down so I decided to revamp and in some cases add to this review! In other words clean up the writing slop….
I should also add that a few weeks back ROAD APPLES landed in my all time Top 20 via the challenge that I swung out to some of you’s via FaceCrack!…
Without further ado…..
Man early 91 it’s winter time in Tbay and what a better way to deal with the winter blahs than to have a new Hip release bestowed upon us. I still remember like it was yesterday going to the record shop and well everyone knew about the Hip as Up To Here went crazy platinum many times over so the street vibe was huge for Road Apples. Once I had it my hands I flipped it over to check out the song titles and WHUT??? Where’s “Crack My Spine Like A Whip??” The 4/4 stomper of a rocker that they opened with about a year earlier at their University show here in Tbay that myself and TBone had checked out! But you know what? After that glaring omission once I played the cd for the first time back at home I figured why it was left off they were so many good tracks that I guess sumthin had to be left off. I must mention that the late Don Smith who produced Road Apples and the debut Up To Here nailed the sound perfectly! He mixes this album like it was recorded live in the studio! People should notice the Sonic’s on these early Hip album’s especially how the guitars are mixed!
So let’s check out what going on down at Hip HQ’s circa January of 1991!
LITTLE BONES- Like on Up To Here Bobby Baker and his fender 6 string start off the action and man the sonics are bang on about 30 seconds Into Little Bones. Don Smith is once again rolling tape and letting the boys groove it on down! And yep Gordo you’re hitting the nail in the head in saying $2.50 for an eyeball and a buck a half a decade. Happy hour,Happy Hour is here!
TWIST MY ARM- Cool picking by Baker and the boys join In a mid tempo tune which I think is some of Downies best lyrics ever. Basically after Jacques Cousteau dumps your ass overboard Gordie picks up the paddle and carries on going through life while people are constantly twisting his arm!
CORDELIA- The Hip all take a chill pill and slow it right down at the beginning of the track and ramp it up by the chorus. Actually this song reeks super cool but for the Hip the reeking ain’t super cool but some chic that goes by the name of Mary Jane!
THE LUXURY- Quick book your night at the Golden Rim Inn and you as in yourself can hear Gordie preach to the faithful few who have joined with his brothers Hip and this tune is a jam and man so far were into album number two and these guys just play it like it is and it gets no better than this style Hip rock! The Luxury is that but I think Gordie is going for the opposite of the luxury and people who are conned out of it. Am I making sense…??
BORN IN THE WATER-Yep some more cool slide guitar from Mr Baker and life is smart as the trees in Sault Ste Marie. The song is a good rocker and shows us as a listener that the Hip can punch the gas at a minutes notice!
LONG TIME RUNNING- Hip slows down the tour bus and shifts right into a slow melodic rocker that shows the sensitive side of Gordie ! I mean he can’t always dump the mic down the front of his pants in every song! ( I say that cuz I recall him doing it when they played Fight live, when he was shadow boxing with himself. I wish they had cell phones back in 1990! ) Real cool use of what sounds to me like slide guitar in this one and the Hip are good at not selling out on sumthin slow mo!
BRING IT ALL BACK-Paul Langlois starts off this track with his guitar and Bobby Baker shows up and well lookie here is Gordie and now there joined by Johnny and Gord and they Bring it all back to Gordie! Like so many of these songs like this one and pretty much the debut Up To Here as well these songs sound live in the studio. Man, what a lost art nowadays! Anyways the song advances into the solo with some super cool wah pedal. Baker was on fire on these first couple of Hip albums!
THREE PISTOLS-The guitars drive this song and I love this tune and I remember them road testing this tune when we caught The Hip live a year earlier in March of 90! I was glad this song was on it just flat-out rocks! It’s the Hip! Marshall’s cranked to 11 and rocking it to the top on this one! Baker man is locked n loaded with a whole lotta riff a roo at the end.
FIGHT- They also played this at the same show as Three Pistols. Gordies asking why u wanna fight ? Actually I have seen Gordie fight a few times basically with himself and the mic stand. Gordie is like a UFC cage fighter taking on himself with a mic! This is a definite jam tune!
ON THE VERGE- This a rambling gamblin’ four on the floor stomper(road tested at the University Hip show as well that’s three tracks played a year before the release of Road Apples) and the Hip is once again laying down serious law. Of note Langlois is not only a solid rhythm player who like Baker does not get his due cuz everyone is watching Gordie all the time but Langlois’s backing vocals kick these songs in the ass on the first couple of records! I still remember seeing the Hip with Langlois strumming his electric with it wrapped in duct tape to keep his strap on his guitar, ploughing out super cool rhythms,chirping out backing vocals all the meanwhile with a smoke in his trap and an ash as long as my arm! Dude that’s rock n f’n roll!
FIDDLERS GREEN- The Hip after literally blowing smoke on the last four tracks decide to slow it right down with this well written tune complete with acoustics. It’s basically a front porch jam. Well done fellas ….well done!
LAST OF THE UNPLUCKED GEMS- That’s the other thing. Hip has cool song titles as well and this is one of them and to end off Road Apples is a nice little 2 minute ditty as the boys refuse to leave the porch and just keep the jam vibe going with a little more electric. Just enough to keep the rockin chair rockin!
IN CONCLUSION- I don’t think the Hip felt any pressure in doing this as a followup to Up To Here. They just kept the vibe going and it was evident in performance as well as when they came back to Tbay in 91 Tbone and myself were left in the cold as tickets went fast! Too bad would have loved to heard this record rocked live but then again it still sounds live every time I listen to it and for me Road Apples is one of their best. Kinda wish they would stayed with this sound a little longer but they were moving leaps and bounds but thanks guys for this rock solid masterpiece!