Welcome to the 12th installment of my reviews for the discography of The Tragically Hip! These are tandem reviews with my amazing wife, Sarah who is posting her own over at Caught Me Gaming. So be sure to check out her write up for That Night In Toronto right here!
As for me, I’m excited for the change in format after 9 studio albums, 1 live album, and an EP! This was my first time watching That Night In Toronto, a concert DVD that was recorded one night in Toronto, November 26th, 2004 to be exact. It was originally an exclusive part of The Hip’s Hipeponymous box set for about a week before getting it own release on November 8th, 2005. The peasants like me who missed out on the boxset and would have to pay a late tax fee in order to get it today, rejoiced. Otherwise, I’d be missing out on a nice concert film for the collection.
This being a show from 2004 means the Hip were supporting one of my lesser favourite albums, In Between Evolution. It is over represented with 6 songs, but the good news is I dig 3 of them!
Really, I think the Hip did an excellent job of giving all of the back catalogue representation:
- Vaccination Scar – In Between Evolution
- Fully Completely – Fully Completely
- Grace, Too – Day For Night
- Summer’s Killing Us – In Between Evolution
- Ahead by a Century – Trouble At the Henhouse
- Silver Jet – In Violet Light
- As Makeshift as We Are –In Between Evolution
- Courage (for Hugh MacLennan) – Fully Completely
- Bobcaygeon – Phantom Power
- Nautical Disaster – Day For Night
- Gus: The Polar Bear from Central Park – In Between Evolution
- Poets – Phantom Power
- At the Hundredth Meridian – Fully Completely
- It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night – In Between Evolution
- My Music at Work – Music @ Work
- New Orleans is Sinking – Up To Here
- Heaven is a Better Place Today – In Between Evolution
- It’s A Good Life If You Don’t Weaken – In Violet Light
- Little Bones – Road Apples
- Gift Shop – Trouble At the Henhouse
- Springtime in Vienna – Trouble At the Henhouse
- Three Pistols – Road Apples
- Boots or Hearts – Up To Here
- Blow at High Dough – Up To Here
If we set the debut EP aside, every release is represented by at least two songs, except for Music @ Work. Too bad because Lake Fever would have been a fun one to hear!
Really though, a setlist is secondary for me. What I find more important is how the band/artist played over what they played. I’ve never heard a live show saved by what a band played, but I’ve certainly heard them elevated by a stellar performance. Did it matter what songs Queen played during Live Aid? I doubt it. Freddie Mercury was so on fire that night he could have lead everyone in Row, Row, Row, Your Boat and still won the night.
Anyway… that was a weird tangent.
My point is, the Hip were in enough of a groove that it didn’t matter what they were playing. I even found myself digging songs like Silver Jet and As Makeshift As We Are that I was lukewarm on prior. I began questioning my own taste but Summer’s Killing Us and Heaven is a Better Place Today kept that in check, lol.
I was expecting Gord Downie to be a little more eccentric on stage, but he was rather down to earth, spending about half of the setlist behind an acoustic guitar. The only song he went full Gord on was At the Hundredth Meridian. Really though, the whole band was messing with the tempo. It is the kind of thing that I find fun to watch, but I know it would drive me bananas for an audio only concert.
Gord had a few genuine moments, like when he dropped his mic stand, losing the microphone in the process. There was a panicked few moments where he scrambled to find it, but then pulled it back after finding it and began apologizing to the mic. Yes, the mic, not the crowd. They ate it up.
I also learned a bit about the band while watching them. Rob Baker was using a lap steel guitar for Vaccination Scar was news to me! And I got to learn the cowboy chords for Ahead By A Century by watching Gord. Guitar nerds are going to nerd while watching a band.
Speaking of nerds, the two front rows could have been a little more animated. It was kind of annoying me how the dude/bros in their hockey jerseys soaking up the prime seating with bored expressions. Let the real fans up there! And, before watching this I didn’t think men’s fashion changed much since 2004, but I don’t think I see many gold chains and heads smeared in hair gel these days.
As for the DVD itself, it is bare bones without any extras. The concert has two audio settings, PCM Stereo and a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The 5.1 mix is pleasantly subtle one with the band on the big speakers in the front, while the back ones contain echo and crowd noise. Aces. Like your there at the show. Visually though, compression is present throughout. This limitation of the format had me wishing for a Blu-ray release… and heck, throw in a uncompressed Dolby Atmos track and some extra video supplements while your at it. I need something like that to throw my money at.
The depth of the Hip’s back catalogue was made apparent to me as I watched That Night In Toronto. I intentionally did not look at the set list, and had fun as I tried to guess what they would play next, what would be included in the encores, and what would be the closer. I was by far more surprised than not. But when your watching your boys in a groove, what they played is only the icing on the cake.
Be sure to check out Sarah’s write up! The Hip series returns next Sunday (Maybe) with Yer Favourites!