Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Tragically Hip: Manchester, UK, 2nd December 2009

Wednesday, 16 December 2009
FYI, Husband: If Gord Downie asked me to run away with him, I totally would.

I really am bonkers. I’ve started and stopped this concert review a million times this morning and each time it spirals into what looks like a shopping list of reasons why Gord Downie is Hands Down No Contest Undoubtedly Indubitably Undeniably Absolutely The Sexiest Man in Canadian Music Indeed. I will try my very hardest to continue this review without dragging into the hot and sweaty gutter where my mind is. I can only endeavour to try; I shall not make any promises.

So if any of you, dear readers, remember back to what seems to be a thousand years ago you will recall me absolutely losing! My! Mind! With excitement when The Tragically Hip announced they were doing a UK tour. I’m sure I was still pregnant with Jude and my fingers couldn’t put the credit card number into Ticketmaster Online fast enough... the nearest gig to us was Manchester on the penultimate night of their UK tour at Academy 3 at the University.

Oh, my friends. Oh, my heart! Such a gig. SUCH a gig. There was maybe 500 people in the whole place – the heads of my fellow Canadian Hip fans will likely explode at this point; so few for a Hip gig is nearly unheard of, but so it was. And I’d bet fifty bucks that 480 of them were Canadians. Straight to the front skipped we, waiting for them to take to the stage. The full setlist can be found here, courtesy Mr JackStraw.

Set 1 Setlist

GAH... three paragraphs in and I can’t NOT say anything about the delectable Mr Downie. The fact that he’s scrumptious to look at is nearly secondary – for me, his appeal lies in his intellect. His lyrics are poetry; poignant, witty, laden with Canadian stories and myths and interwoven with such delightful eclectic little observations that arouse almost immeasurable levels of artistic respect that I find nothing short of awe inspiring. Throw into the mix his between-song rantings and a lot of sweat – a LOT of sweat – and an arse like two eggs in a hanky and it’s SOLD TO THE BLONDE LADY IN THE FRONT ROW!

Not zooming in, y'all... we really were that close.  Hurrah!

The gig itself was top-notch. Jase was beside himself; having never saw them before, or really listened to them save the odd song which hit the iPod shuffle while I’m behind the wheel of the car. And living here in England for the last 10 years has certainly kept the band off my radar; I don’t think I’ve got any releases post-2000. But he loved it. He kept tapping me on the shoulder with regular assertions of how BLOODY BRILLIANT they were, mixed with the occasional reprimand that I hadn’t previously taken the time to explain to him just how BLOODY BRILLIANT they were in the ten years we’ve been together. (Which I totally have, obviously... :::sigh::: he never pays attention to the important things.)

Did I mention the sweat? If you’ve ever seen The Hip live before you’ll know that my fantasy husband Gord Downie sweats on stage A LOT. He keeps lots and lots of white handkerchiefs around to mop up said sweat to keep it from dripping everywhere.

*          *          *          *

(sorry, just needed a moment to swoon, there...)

So, imagine the fever-pitch of hot-and-botherederisation I experienced when this happened during “Courage (for Hugh McClennan)”:
• Gord Downie whips out hanky, wipes sweat off brow
• Puts it over his face, sings a few lines
• Walks over to me (singing along complete with goofy grin on face)
• BLOWS ME A KISS (and, consequently, my mind)
• Throws me the hanky
• I blow him a kiss back, he smiles at me

Who DOESN'T want a sweaty hanky?

I tried to maintain a dignified composure but inside I was as giddy as a Granny within underpants-throwing distance of Tom Jones. Jason was all, “HEY HEY, MY WIFE, EVERYONE... KISS RECIPIENT, RIGHT HERE!” and I was all, “Take THAT, other front row biatches!”

So the (subsidized) pints may have had a (very) little to do with it, but it wasn’t long before I was crying. Gord sang this line (from “Bobcaygeon”):

“...went back to bed this morning / and as I'm pulling down the blinds / I saw the sky was dull and hypothetical / a nd falling one cloud at a time / that night in toronto / with its checkerboard floors...”

Well, I only had to hear the word “Toronto” and I’ve go tears streaming down. Oh, lovely, lovely.  They were impeccable, very tight, note perfect... a total musical journey.  The songs they chose to share with us are the exact songs, in the exact order that I would have chosen myself.  It was a priviledge to be witness to 5 guys who were, to most intents and purposes, having a blast jamming in a basement.  I didn't mean for this gig review to be primarily about Mr. Downie's sweat (honest) because of course, it's about the music.  Which was BLOODY MARVELLOUS.  The first set was pretty intense, full-on, in your face, straight ahead bare bones rock-tastic - Courage, Fully Completely and Poets were particular highlights.  The second set was a bit more laid back; they came in and sat down and played a few of my very favourites.  Best track of the night?  Nautical Disaster, without a doubt.  Check out their official website -- grab a cup of tea and sit through my high school soundtrack the videos section.

Anyway – please enjoy the pictures I took, and some video, too. I always take my camera to gigs... but I only take snippets of the introductions of songs (otherwise I can’t dance!) so I hope you don’t mind the disjointed feel. (NB: the quality is AWFUL but I think it’s because I had to shrinkify the .mov’s so much to make them uploadable)

Thanks, fellas. A sweeter, more enjoyable homesickness I have never known.

Mammy P:  2 December 2009 - Tragically Hip, Manchester

3 people had something to say about this...:

Lynn said...

I'm not a Hip fan. I know! So un-Canadian of me. I hope this doesn't put me on your blacklist.

This post *almost* swayed me, though.

Recently a movie came out here called "One Week" in which a young man takes a road trip all across Canada. It's a must-see for the homesick. Also, Gord Downie has a small part and he is UBER cool in it.

I just realized that I STILL have not looked at your CSS file. I totally suck! I am putting it on the to-do list, which is like getting a VIP pass to Lynn's mind. Hopefully I will have some actual results soon.

Nicola P. said...

Ha ha Lynn... no worries. I can totally relate; I liked the Hip in high school a lot but as their popularity grew, my liking of them -- or should I say, their fans? -- started to wane.

But I tell ya; there's nothing like 4000 miles between me and the adopted homeland to ripen up a fruit I thought long since fermenting on the ground... they are better with age, and most certainly with a bit of isolation on this tiny island of mine.

The Sentimental Suitcase said...

WOW Nicola this is a wonderful post! I know exactly how you feel. Being with the Hip live is one of life's great pleasures. You are one lucky woman to get all that love from Gordie.
I wanted "Wheat Kings" to play as I walked down the asile at my wedding so bad but did the proper wife thing and picked a song we both knew. ;(