The Tragically Hip: Gordon Downie (vocals); Rob Baker, Paul Langlois (guitar); Gord Sinclair (bass); Johnny Fay (drums).
Recorded live at Cobo Arena, Detroit, Michigan.
The Tragically Hip, one of Canada's musical merrymakers, are also praised for their raw, sweaty live performances. Frontman Gordon Downie is a real dynamo, lyrically and physically, and his bandmates only support the beautiful live chaos. With that aside, the Hip treated fans with their first ever live album, Live Between Us. Recorded while on tour in support of 1996's Trouble at the Henhouse, Live Between Us documents one of the band's more ambitious evenings without any technical tweaking. A very loyal Detroit audience is captured at the sold-out Cobo Arena and a very tight-knit and fiery Tragically Hip is in command. The unity between the Hip and their fans depicts something heavy. Downie's random improvising and loose poetic ramblings spark the intro of "Grace, Too." It creeps along with Johnny Fay's electric percussion, and already Live Between Us is steady, creatively stripped, and vibrant. The emotional rage of "Fully Completely" sets up the rest of the album, particularly the relaxed ballad "Ahead By a Century." Layered backing vocals and plucking acoustics depict the Hip's signature sincerity, and the sneaky rock snippets of David Bowie's "China Girl" and the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby" midway through "New Orleans Is Sinking" flow without hesitance. Most stunning is his lyrical rant of Jane Siberry's "The Temple" near the end of the taunting "Nautical Disaster," which also includes a verse from the Rheostatics' "Bad Time to Be Poor." As a whole, the band is abrasive in a simplistic sense, making Live Between Us an intimate jam between the bandmembers themselves and a shared moment with fans. The Tragically Hip have maintained their beloved status because of such grateful informality. ~ MacKenzie Wilson