If you’re a staunch Tragically Hip fan you’re likely to know the band’s beginnings were bar gigs in Kingston, Ontario, over 30 years ago. You’ll know the band recorded 14 studio albums, nine of which reached the peak of the Canadian charts and two of which sold over a million copies. And you’ll know they claimed over a dozen Juno Awards.
If you’re a casual fan — as most Canadians are — you’ll probably know the band is Canadian and you’ll certainly hum along to a few of the Hip’s most popular classics like Fifty Mission Cap, Courage, and Blow at High Dough. But you’ll definitely know the face of the band’s charismatic, if somewhat quirky front-man, Gord Downie.
As the Tragically Hip kicked off the Canadian leg of their Fully and Completely Tour at Victoria’s Save On Foods Memorial Centre on February 4th, it didn’t matter whether you fell into one group of fans or the other, the crowd, and what a crowd it was (with at best 750 empty seats in an arena that holds approximately 6,000 for a full concert set-up), to put it mildly, rocked.
As the title of the show indicates, the plan behind the tour is to showcase the band’s critically acclaimed Fully Completely studio album, released in 1992, and play it in its entirety between opening and closing sets of favourites.
As the clock struck 9pm, the show began, with the Hip wasting no time getting into the band’s collection. Downie is not known for small talk, in fact the only time he had gone off the song script was when he slipped “Victoria” into the lyrics of an early number, which was met with approval from the crowd. No slick set is required for a Hip show, in fact the stage seemed almost a bit sparse, with drummer Johnny Fay’s kit being one of the more modest seen of any rock show at the arena. Video screens left and right of the stage helped for those at the back. The lighting was adequate, if slightly underused, and additional screens behind and in front of the stage worked well for mostly black and white film footage when required for accent, including a hockey game backdrop during Fifty Mission Cap. How Canadian.
Photography by Colin Smith Photography on behalf of Victoria Buzz