i come from downtown

toward the end of the first world war, and up to the beginning of the second, the british navy – which had been the dominant maritime power for centuries (thereby making britain a dominant world power) – became less and less of a force, not so much because they weakened, but because they rested on their laurels and let history pass them by while clinging to tradition (see also ‘French Infantry’) at the sake of innovation.

in any case, that was the last tragically hip concert i plan on ever going to. i’ve seen them live 3 or 4 times now, and the concert highlights are fewer in number and exactly the same as they were 7 years ago on the day for night tour.

first of all, let’s review some rules of concert decorum:

  1. not since the height of kiss army power in the late 70s has it been cool to fire up, giggling and triumphant, a joint/smoke as if this makes you rock n’ roll and shows how you stick it to the man. this is especially true in opera venues with names like “the hummingbird centre”, as was the case last night.
  2. devil signs have been dumb even longer than that.
  3. do i even need to mention swaying your lighters back and forth? see my spiritualized review for details.
  4. dancing, jumping, singing, shouting, whistling and generally getting your groove on are fully encouraged. however the music grabs you, you gotta let it do it’s thing. however, this does not mean you can scream (and i mean roseanne-singing-the-star-spangled-banner-quality screaming here…) at the top of your lungs for the full two hours – drowning out even the loudest parts of songs – unintelligible half-lyrics interspersed with “FUUUUCKINNNNNN’ EEEEEEEEHHH!!” as were the two mouth-breathers beside us. these fuckups, no doubt, drove in from barrie or ancaster, covering the floor of the pickup with empty bottles of wildcat. they would’ve been entertaining, except they were ruining the sound, so we just laughed at them and not with them. but, it’s a concert, so what’re you gonna do?

“nautical disaster”, “yawning or snarling”, “fire in the hole” and “greasy jungle” were the pallbearers of the mighty hip that had given us the absolutely brilliant (if overplayed) fully completely, the classic up to here and the underrated road apples (the best song from which, “cordelia”, still stands up as one of their greatest). day for night was their suez crisis, the signal to the world that they were no longer infallible. while half the cd (“grace, too”, “so hard done by”, “thugs”, “inevitability of death”, “an inch an hour”) showed their old strength, the other half threw in the towel and said, “no mas”.

it’s not nostalgia that makes people cheer the loudest for “new orleans is sinking”, “fifty mission cap”, “at the hundredth meridian” or “blow at high dough”. those songs are better, more original, more distinctive. the lyrics were more biting, the emotion was in it more. there sure as fuck weren’t any drum machines (as there are on in violet light). all 4 cds since day for night have had, at best, 3 good songs, not one of which is as good as the worst song on fully completely. remember, folks, i’m not saying this because i refuse to be drawn out of the past, i’m speaking from both a technical and a “gut” feel on this. the music isn’t as strong, and it doesn’t give you the same kick in the balls. i love it when bands evolve, as long they evolve into something good, otherwise they should cut their losses and pack it in.

and so, if this trend by the hip continues, i’ll keep trading (or just not buying) the new hip cd every few years, and they’ll get no more of my concertgoing money. not that this should worry them; they’ll never go broke touring here, certainly. fans have given them as much of a solid touring base in canada as the stones (who, coincidentally, played a block away at the air canada centre last night) have worldwide. i just hope they pull themselves out of this spin before they become a travelling sideshow like the stones, living on their fame and mystique rather than their music. they’re dangerously close already.

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