Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Tragically Hip - Live at The Garage, Glasgow

The night after we saw the Hip in Manchester we drove North on the M6 until it became the M74 across the border in Scotland. It didn’t take too long to reach Glasgow, or to find our hotel, right in the centre.

The gig was at The Garage on Sauchiehall Street, the long main street in Glasgow with just about everything on it. Our hotel was on one of the streets off Sauchiehall Street, and was literally about 300 yards away form the venue. We walked up the street, and turned left and there it was.

Again there were several Canadians present in the crowd. I got talking to one who was incredibly excited to meet a British fan! Her partner was very chatty too, although he’d never really heard of the band.

Like the previous night, the Hip did two sets. They started off with New Orleans is Sinking – the song they’d concluded with the previous night. In a bizarre way, that made it feel like the gig was a continuation of where they left off. For the first set I left Cathy in the safety and comfort of a booth (yes, they had seats!) and pushed my way to the front of the crowd. I was ecstatic when they played Fireworks, my favourite song, which had been omitted from the Manchester set-list. They also played The Drop-off, which I love, despite containing the rudest borderline blasphemy in any Hip song.

For the second set I joined Cathy in the booth, where we could stand on the seats (naughty us!) and get a great view over the crowd. They began with a couple of acoustic numbers, like the night before, but played different ones, including Wheat Kings, which the crowd swayed along to. A few people even held up lighters, which is rare at gigs nowadays.

Again, Gord Downie’s interaction with the crowd was worth the ticket price alone. He told one person to lower their Canadian flag in the most egomaniacal way possible: “Don’t let your nationalism obscure people’s view of me!” His rampage off the topic in At the Hundredth Meridian included quizzing members of the audience about where their camera-phones were when security had to intervene in a scuffle. And then he did the most brilliant thing ever!

During the final song of the set (My Music at Work) he jumped off the stage into the crowd. Then he climbed up on the first booth near the front. He climbed over the seat into the second booth and hugged the large drunk lady who was standing on a table. Then he climbed into the booth next to us.

I thought ‘He won’t keep coming’. But he did. The next second he had climbed into our booth and was pointing the microphone at me in time for me to sing ‘My Music at Work’. He passed the mic to another guy, hugged the girl next to me and then jumped from the booth into the audience and pushed his way back through to the stage.

The girl next to me (who had raised her pint glass to me because I knew all the words to the bit in Hundredth Meridian where it talks about Ry Cooder) was immediately shouting into her phone. She had called Canada to tell a friend about her close encounter. Meanwhile I was just stunned. Fortunately, Cathy had got a photo of it so I knew it had actually happened!

They came back on for a short encore, and played the song that everyone had been fruitlessly shouting for in Manchester: Little Bones. Then the lights came up and we spilled out onto a fairly quiet Sauchiehall Street. I was slightly punch-drunk with excitement and texted as many people I could think of who would in any way care.

The funny thing is that after Manchester, I had wondered whether we were being silly going on to Glasgow. In the morning in Manchester Central Travelodge, I had temporarily regretted buying tickets for both nights. We’d seen them once. Was it really worth seeing them again?

Turns out it so was.

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