Ask anyone – ok, make that any Canadian, and you will hear the best, and only, place to be in Grand Cayman, ever, on Tuesday 1 May, 2007 was Safehaven.
The Tragically Hip, of course.
A thrill of a lifetime for fans old and new, Canada’s darlings performed their first Caribbean engagement in Grand Cayman of all places, and local Canucks couldn’t have been happier.
The band was on Island to mark the Big Daddy’s 25th anniversary celebrations, headlining a show also featuring local acts Suckerbox and Smooth Bill Annie.
Kicking off the evening in fine form, the tight sounds and pro attitudes showcased the fantastic talent a small place like Cayman can produce.
But, let’s admit it, the 3,000 or so people packing the field were there for the Hip, and they were not disappointed.
Not in the slightest.
The weather held out and the stars, above and on the ground, came out.
The biggest act to ever hit Seven Mile Beach wowed the crowd with a cornucopia of classics as well as a few new tracks from their latest album World Container.
The seemingly endless anticipation and hefty ticket price paid off in spades, the crowd going wild (and belting along at the top of their lungs) for such faves as Courage, a typically off-the-wall Grace, too, Fully Completely, Wheat Kings, and awesome renditions of New Orleans is Sinking and Blow at High Dough. (But, ask some, what happened to Little Bones?)
And it looked like the fans weren’t the only ones having fun under the light of the full moon – various audience members swore they saw wacky frontman Gord Downie and other band members actually smiling throughout the hour and a half set – were they slightly bemused that they could be having such a great time, unexpectedly?
Not surprisingly, Canadian patriotism was rampant, with numerous Maple Leaf flags waving in the breeze, including one enormous drapeau that surely rendered a few expats slightly teary-eyed and sentimental.
Also spotted: a totally awesome Tragically Hip hockey jersey, and a vintage Jays cap, much appreciated and keeping the Canadian sporting/music connection alive. (Case in point if you don’t know this already: Don Cherry plays a fried chicken delivery man in the The Darkest One video also featuring the trailer park boys – how’s that for crossover?)
With a high energy performance, the band proved introducing a niche music market to an international audience to be a successful social experiment. Unscientific exit polls suggest some converts have been won to the Hip cause. Welcome!
Superb lighting and acoustics surely played a large role in audience satisfaction, with a production that was low on special effects and high on quality. Nothing went noticeably awry and attention was kept on the artists and the music – no splashy overproduction and questionable sound to take away from the rockin’ groove.
Overall, it was a fabulous night that until now could only happen in your dreams. The concert had everything music fans could have asked for, with a fantastic crowd vibe and the ear-to-ear grins gracing every happy face saying it all.
Many thanks must be extended to Big Daddy’s Damien Dilbert and the crew at BrightIdeas for staging what is surely going to be the concert of the year.
Fans everywhere have only one question: Can we do it again next year??