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Analyzing the Set Lists: The Most-Played Songs on the Man Machine Poem Tour

We’re getting closer and closer to the final Tragically Hip show in Kingston. I took a look at the setlist, using, for all the concerts on their Man Machine Poem tour so far — from Victoria to Hamilton — and analyzed what I found. Going through all the songs played in each of the 13 performances so far was no easy feat, but I did find out some pretty interesting things.

First of all, each performance is organized by album with songs in groups of four, except for during the encores. Of course, since this tour is meant to promote — at least in part — the Hip’s latest album, Man Machine Poem, songs from that album appear in every show. What’s interesting is that the tracks from the 2016 album are always in the second set of four. The single “In a World Possessed by the Human Mind” and the song “Machine” have been played in every concert so far. Other songs from Man Machine Poem played include “What Blue” at 10 times, “Tired as Fuck” with five occurrences, “Ocean Next” has been played four times, and “In Sarnia” has also come up four times.

The only other album that has appeared in all 13 concerts so far is 1998’s Phantom Power. Of the songs on that album, “Poets” and “Bobcaygeon” have been played 11 times each, “Something On” appeared six times, “Fireworks” was played seven times, and “Membership” showed up four times.

Three albums to be included eleven times each in the tour are Fully Completely (1992), Day for Night (1994), and Trouble at the Henhouse (1996). From Fully Completely, the two most common songs that have been played during the tour have been “Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)” and “At the Hundredth Meridian”, having being played eight times each. “Wheat Kings”, “Fully Completely”, “Fifty Mission Cap”, “Eldorado”, “Pigeon Camera”, “Locked in the Trunk of a Car”, and “We’ll Go, Too” have also been played, but the only one to come near to the two most common ones is “Wheat Kings”. Off of Day for Night, “Grace, Too” has been played the most, at 11 times. The Hip played “Ahead by a Century” from Trouble at the Henhouse more than any other on that album, appearing in all but two concerts. “Gift Shop” has been played nine times so far, “Springtime in Vienna”, “Don’t Wake Daddy”, and “Flamenco” were played six, four, and three times, respectively.

Yet another album that has been played at over half the shows is Road Apples (1991). A mix of songs from this album hasbeen played. These include: “Little Bones” (7), “Twist My Arm” (7), “The Luxury” (5), “Three Pistols” (5), “Fiddler’s Green” (5), “Long Time Running” (4), and “The Last of the Unplucked Gems” (4).

Some songs from Up to Here (1989) have been played at nine of the concerts on the tour. Both “New Orleans Is Sinking” and “Boots or Hearts” have been played eight times. “Blow at High Dough” and “Opiated” have shown up at seven performances each. Somewhat interesting, but also unsurprising, is that “38 Years Old” has not been played even a single time during this tour. It’s one of their most popular songs and heard quite a bit on the radio, however the Hip rarely play it live.

During encores, two songs come up more frequently than others. “Ahead by a Century” has been played six of 11 times during an encore. Of the eleven times the Hip played “Bobcaygeon”, five of them have been during an encore.

So what does this all mean in terms of the final show in Kingston?

This is a lot to take in, but there are some pretty solid conclusions that we can draw from this. Obviously, Man Machine Poem will be played at some point during the night, but if 13 of 15 concerts have album in the second set of four songs, I doubt Gord and the boys will suddenly change that for the final two performances. I would also be surprised if “Machine” and “In a World Possessed by the Human Mind” are not included in the set of four from that album. “What Blue” from the same album also has a good chance of being played. Phantom Power has a fantastic chance of being played, as well, quite possibly with “Bobcaygeon” coming up during one of the encores. I would not be surprised if the Hip plays “Poets”, either. Songs from Fully Completely, Day for Night, and Trouble at the Henhouse will most likely be played. I can see “Ahead by a Century” from Trouble at the Henhouse being played in an encore.

Here’s a chart that breaks down the albums and songs that the Hip have played so far. (NOTE: This was compiled before the tour was completed, so if anyone wants to pick up the ball email [email protected] and I’ll give you the master spreadsheet.)

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