Last week we saw the Tragically Hip at a 1500 seat venue on the north side. Here are my comments:
The Ambassador Theatre is a former cinema. The main floor has two bars, no seating and is gently sloped toward the stage. The balcony, which I couldn’t really see very well, was considerably steeper, and started about halfway back from the stage. There seemed to be about 1500 people there, and we figured they were 90% Canadian. We brought a couple of Irish people with us, and they guessed there were few Irish at the gig. Judging by the height of the average audience member and the striking clarity of the air (there were fewer smokers than usual), I’d say this was true.
Because of their proximity, the small size and Canadianess of the crowd, Julie commented that “it was like seeing the Hip in your high school gym.” That’s not a reflection of the theatre’s architecture, which was understated and charming.
The band seemed in fine form. They offered 5 songs from their new album (including 2 in the encore…”Lake Fever” and one other). The high point for me was a transcendent version of “100th Meridian”, with Gordie muttering at length about memory during the bridge. He repeated “life is forgetting” for a while, and then broke into a rapid-fire “Iremembereverything, Iremembereverything, etc” and then flying right into the actual bridge lyrics, double-time. Other high points included “Ahead By a Century”, an understated “Grace Too” and a furious “Little Bones”. All in all, it was a fantastic show. Seeing them live actually gave me a bit more insight into Gordie’s surreal lyrics.