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Concert Reviews:
Tragically Hip renews love affair with Detroit

For Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Monday, December 3, 2012

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DETROIT -- Tragically Hip frontman Gordon Downie said hello to Cobo Arena at the start of the group's show Wednesday night (Nov. 28) at the Fillmore Detroit. But rest assured that he and the rest of the band knew exactly where they were.

Hailing from Kingston, Ont., the Hip has enjoyed a long friendship with Detroit-Windsor audiences -- a big enough following at one point that it did headline Cobo in November of 1996, documenting it on the following year's "Live Between Us" album. Sixteen years later, headlining this year's 93.9 The River Winter Icebreaker concert, the Hip may be playing smaller places but the connection is still sturdy.

The quintet spanned its nearly 30-year career during Wednesday's, 24-song, hour-and 55-minute set, drawing six tracks from its latest album, "Now For Plan A," including the show-opening "At Transformation." But that left plenty of room for the rest of the Hip's catalog, with dynamic and raw renditions of favorites such as "Greasy Jungle," "Family Band," "Escape is at Hand for the Travellin' Man" and the group's "greatest hits" -- "Grace, Too," "Poets" and "Ahead By a Century."

"At the Hundreth Meridian," which opened the encore set, was a welcome surprise, while the rootsy, Dylanesque "Bobcaygeon" was a highlight that set up the final charge through "50 Mission Cap."

Downey, meanwhile, kept the crowd entertained with his mime-like physicality and random commentary, warning about the dangers of texting while riding a dog sled, musing about a women's bra that was thrown on stage and paying tribute to the 20-year crew member who changes his microphones. And while he didn't explicitly mention The River, he did talk about the Detroit and St. Clair rivers. His bandmates played through it all, of course, and that mix of powerhouse rock and practiced eccentricity only made for another friendly visit between the Hip and one of its most enthusiastic south of the border audiences.

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