Live At The Roxy

Live At The Roxy

With the release of their second album Road Apples in February 1991, The Tragically Hip were well on their way to becoming Canada’s newest arena-rock stars. By contrast, down in the US, they were still slogging it out in the clubs and picking up converts one gig at a time—a circumstance made apparent by this live recording from May of that year, when they took the stage at Hollywood’s Roxy Theatre to a polite smattering of applause. But with the Hip, it didn’t matter if they were playing to 10,000 people or a hundred—with a frontman like Gord Downie at the helm, you were always guaranteed a show. Long before this official release, the Roxy set had already attained mythical status among Hip fans, thanks to extended versions (previously released as B-sides) of set list staples “New Orleans Is Sinking” and “Highway Girl” where Downie wilds out into freestyled spoken-word narratives like a hoser Jim Morrison. But those are just the two best-known examples here of Downie treating the stage as his own absurdist comedy club: As the band attacks Road Apples anthems like “Little Bones,” “Three Pistols,” and “On the Verge” with punkish abandon, Downie drops in shout-outs to Val Kilmer and Akira Kurosawa, while previewing a certain funereal fantasy about Ry Cooder that would find a permanent home in 1992 single “At the Hundreth Meridian.” The greatest live albums tend to capture a band at the peak of their powers, but Live at the Roxy is an essential document of the Hip learning to harness theirs in real time.

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