When the red recording light went on at Hollywood’s famed Roxy Theater, the pressure was on the Tragically Hip to put on a good show, guitarist Paul Langlois recalls.
It didn’t take long before the nerves faded into the background, Langlois said, as frontman Gord Downie punctuated the exuberant set list with off-the-cuff musings.
The May 3, 1991 live performance will be released as a standalone album on digital, vinyl and CD streaming platforms on June 24, after being remastered for the Hip’s 30th anniversary. road apples box last year.
The gig has earned coveted status among hip collectors over the decades, both because of its legendary Sunset Strip venue and Downie’s improvisational charisma, Langlois said.
“As soon as we started, you kind of forget about the check-in,” Langlois said by phone ahead of Thursday’s announcement. “It was carefree, intense and fun.”
The show, which was originally recorded for a radio show, consists of only early Hip “rockers,” Langlois said, including small bones, Long operating time and Cordelia.
Listeners ‘will feel like you’re there’
The album also includes a legendary nine-minute rendition of New Orleans is sinking, known to fans as the “killer whale aquarium” version, a reference to Downie’s mid-song – possibly apocryphal – anecdote about a job cleaning an aquarium.
The rest of the band riffed behind Downie’s improvisational interjections and, if necessary, brought him back to the song, Langlois said.
“It runs on water and we try to keep it afloat underneath,” he said.
“We were all in it, so we could feel when to press the pedal.”
Live at the Roxy is available for pre-order. One of the tracks She did not know, went on sale or stream Thursday.
Langlois said he expects listeners to “feel like you’re there” as they dance along to the recording.
“It’s really us, I think, at one of our first.”