By: Don Tottingham
On the 28th of November the Canadian Rock Band “The Tragically Hip” invaded the Fillmore Auditorium in Downtown Detroit. The “Hip” brought with them many of their Canadian followers to the venue on this cool Detroit evening. The Hip are from Kingston, Ontario, which is not to terribly far from Detroit.
The band is compiled of 5 members, lead vocalist Gordon Downie who was looking dapper as usual in his top hat and ready to rock the Fillmore. My favorite part is the two guitarists, lead guitar Paul Langlois and rhythm guitarist Rob Baker. Finally rounding out the band is Bassist Gord Sinclair, and of course, drummer, Johnny Fay. These members have a ton of musical talent especially the guitar players in Langlois and Baker. Langlois switched between a Stratocaster and Gibson guitar depending on the type of song, while Baker jammed on a Paul Reed Smith axe that rocked the Fillmore. The three guitars amplify the Fillmore with a complete sound that is second to none on the rock scene. Another interesting thing to note about the Hip is the fact they use Marshall Stack amps. As a guitar player I can appreciate the musical knowledge and the clean sound a Marshall puts out. From a distance it would seem as if these were tube amps as well, making the sound that much better. Gord Sinclair also, would use a pick from time to time on the bass. A pick on bass was something that I had not seen before, but after doing some research, I found that picks on basses where a common feature during the early grunge phase. Many bass players used picks in the 80’s and 90’s.
For anyone that has not seen or heard “The Tragically Hip” just imagine REM with a Canadian Ale mixed in, perhaps sit down and listen to REM and drink a Molson, and you’ll get the Tragically Hip. Now of course, the Hip debuted in 1983, many years before REM. The biggest difference between the Hip and REM is the fact that the Hip has a small stage set up. There are just a couple of Aluminum panels for different color reflection during the show on the back wall and a small elevated stage from the drummer, and of course, the Marshall Amps and that’s it. The Hip could literally travel in a Ford Escape and have no issue. That fact alone makes the hip much more down to earth with the everyday musician that is striving for greatness.
Anyone that is interested in early grunge music must get out and see “The Tragically Hip” the next time they are in a venue near you. Great show and a great band, not to mention the newly renovated Fillmore made the atmosphere even better for the fans, and I’m sure the band as well.