I first started writing this just moments after getting on the subway after the Tragically Hip played their last show at the Air Canada Centre on August 14th (so please excuse the writing because I was full of adrenaline and emotions). The subway car I was on was full of Hip fans and you’d think that the mood would have been a somber one but it really, really wasn’t.
The atmosphere before and after the concert was nothing like I’ve experienced. There was an excitement and as cliché as it sounds, the atmosphere was electric.
There was a couple, probably in their mid-40s, sitting across from me on the subway talking about how the Hip felt like family. As a fan, I honestly think most Hip fans feel that. It felt like a celebration of life and the memories that this band had given us.
Re-reading that, it sounds really cheesy but that’s honestly how it felt.
Now you’re probably thinking “But Erik, you’re not writing a review” and you know what? You’re right. I really just wanted to talk about what I felt that night seeing the Hip.
“But dammit, how were they?”
They were amazing. They played an incredibly tight show as a band and Gord commanded the stage like no one I’ve seen before. From the first moments of “Blow at High Dough” the Hip had the audience fully completely (heh!) in the palms of their hand.
The audience was loud and boisterous which was incredible. I have never heard the ACC as loud as it was that night.
It was amazing to see a 60ish year old couple two rows ahead of me, a teenage couple dancing in the row ahead of me, and a bunch of bros to my left.
I think what really got to me was the amount of love and support for Gord Downie and the band.
I honestly don’t know what else I could say. The night left me speechless. I had a hard time explaining the show to my wife and I think that it’s apparent that I still can’t fully grasp what I felt that night.
What I do know is that I’m incredibly thankful that I was able to see the Hip on this tour and it honestly felt like the most Canadian thing I have ever experienced.
Now I’m going to end this by stealing something from Alan Cross’ website, but I think these are great rules leading up to the final show in Kingston. (http://ajournalofmusicalthings.com/new-rules-everyone-gord-downie-tragically-hip-going-forward/)
- NO EULOGIZING.Gord isstill with us. Let’s not talk about him like he’s already passed on. That’s rude, insensitive and wrong. If you find yourself or anyone else referring to Gord or The Hip in the past tense, STOP IT.
- STOP ASKING ABOUT THE HIP’S LACK OF AMERICAN SUCCESS.It doesn’t fucking matterthat The Hip had limited success in the US. There’s only one reason why things didn’t work out: bad record contracts. It had nothing to do with the band being “too Canadian” or the inadequacy of their music. Besides, haven’t we grown out of needing American approval for everything we do with music?
- NO CRYING.I know, I know, this is a hard one but there should be no pre-mourning. Take a lesson from Gord and the band and live in the moment. Enjoy today because tomorrow…well you know. (*Note: I failed that this, I totally cried during Bobcaygeon)
Some other thoughts:
- Grey is the official colour of the Man Machine Poet tour and it’s also the colour of our brains. It was crazy to see a sea of grey clothing, all in support of the band and glioblastoma, the form of brain cancer that Gord has been diagnosed with.
- If you’re going to a concert, the Sunnybrook Foundation is collecting donations for the Gord Downey fund.
- Gord Downie’s chief oncologist has been to almost every show on the tour and he’s there to make sure that Gord is well enough to perform each night.
- At least at the concert I was at, there are venue and show day specific shirt. They had a light blue shirt with the Tragically Hip head and logo on the front and “That Night in Toronto 8/14/15” on the back. It sold out before I got one so get to the merch table early.
- If you’re going to the Hamilton concert tonight, bring a white hankey. Alan Cross explains it here (http://ajournalofmusicalthings.com/going-hip-concert-hamilton-bring-white-hanky/)
- If you’re interested, here’s the setlist for that night:
- Blow at High Dough
- New Orleans Is Sinking
- Boots or Hearts
- What Blue
- Ocean Next
- In a World Possessed by the Human Mind
- Streets Ahead
- We Want to Be It
- Man Machine Poem
- At Transformation
- Gift Shop
- Springtime in Vienna
- Ahead by a Century
- The Last of the Unplucked Gems
- Three Pistols
- Twist My Arm
- Long Time Running
- Little Bones
- Escape Is at Hand for the Travellin’ Man
- Grace, Too