Longevity doesn’t guarantee anything in the world of rock ’n’ roll. Plenty of classic rocks continue to plug away on the touring circuit, trotting out their hits and going through the motions. Thankfully, Kingston, Ontario’s the Tragically Hip, which has almost 30 years under its belt, is not one of those bands. These guys have such terrific chemistry and camaraderie, it just appears as if they’re operating on auto-pilot. In reality, this group plays like a well-oiled machine, something that was apparent last night at a sold out House of Blues.
You’d wouldn’t be wrong for thinking that singer Gord Downie, who sported an old-fashioned top hat to cover up his chrome dome, looked a bit like R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe. He moved like Stipe, too, as he pantomimed during the opening number, “At Transformation,” the hard-driving single from the band’s new album Now for Plan A. Downie stripped off his jacket and then vented with punk rock rage on the acerbic “The Kids Don’t Get It.” The band simmered down for “Gift Shop,” for which Downie strapped on an acoustic guitar. After fiddling a bit with his in-ear monitors, which he joked was French for “pain in the ass,” the band faltered a bit on “We Want It To Be,” but got back on track with “El Dorado,” a track that slowly built in intensity. The group punctuated “Fire in the Hole” with a ferocious jam and softened up for the beautiful ballad “Springtime in Vienna.”
The Hip saved the best for the six-song encore, which commenced with “At the Hundreth Meridan,” a song that’s every bit as anthemic as Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” And the guys kept the audience, which we’re guessing was mostly Canadian, on its feet by concluding with hits such as “Ahead by a Century,” “Bobcaygeon” and “Fifty Mission Cap.”