5-31: Tragically Hip at HOB

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003c/1243442532-tragically-hip.jpgThere’s probably no bigger “big in Canada” band than the Tragically Hip. Over the past 25 years, they’ve racked up more than a dozen Juno Awards (Canada’s equivalent to the Grammys). They were also inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. The remarkably unchanged quintet remains guided by charismatic frontman Gordon Downie, whose passionate vocals and poetic lyrics make him something like a Maple Leaf Michael Stipe, while dueling guitarists Rob Baker and Paul Langlois fortify the band’s powerful, arena-filling sound. But the Hip’s latest album, We Are the Same, isn’t more of the same. There are a few signature rock thunderbolts (“Frozen in My Track” and “Love Is a First” — curiously, both are tucked in at the disc’s end), but the album’s tone is overall quieter and more subtle. The album’s bookends, “Morning Moon” and “Country Day,” boast wistful, bucolic R.E.M.-like qualities. The group pulls together its soft/hard elements on “Now the Struggle Has a Name,” a six-plus-minute emotional epic that sets the stage for the record’s centerpiece, the nine-and-a-half-minute “The Depression Suite.” This ambitious, three-part orchestral-rock opus should figure prominently onstage since it plays to the Hip’s chief strengths: Downie’s intense rock-poet persona, balanced by the band’s classic-rock dramatics. Showtime is 8 p.m. at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583, hob.com). It’s sold out. — Michael Berick

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