More than 3,500 fans of the Tragically Hip turned out on both shores of the Thompson River in Kamloops Saturday night, joining countless thousands across the country to take in the band’s final concert, televised as a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.
That was about half the number who turned out in front man Gord Downie’s home town of Kingston, Ont., to watch the band perform live, a bittersweet swan song of a concert after his recent diagnosis with glioblastoma, an incurable brain cancer.
The two-hour concert, which included many of the band’s hits through the years, was screened in Riverside Park at the Rotary Bandshell and at McDonald Park following Overlanders Day celebrations. The South Shore was more adult-oriented with Rotary-run beer sales attracting lengthy lineups as the sun beat down. Many wisely brought umbrellas to cool themselves. The North Shore attracted more families and had the benefit of more shade in the 33 C heat.
“Brain cancer is hugely underfunded,” said Jennifer Harbaruk of the Canadian Cancer Society from the bandshell stage before the show began.
Fans were encouraged to donate to a newly established research fund in honour of Downie, to text the word FIGHT to 20222, visit cancer.ca/brainresearch or call 1-800-268-8874.
Glioblastoma is the most common type of brain cancer in adults and one with an average survival of less than 15 months after diagnosis.
Although the outdoor screens were small by arena standards, the cheering seemed almost as loud in Kamloops as it was in Kingston. And Edmonton. And Turks and Caicos.
Fans had to be impressed, what with the heroic last stand of a great Canadian band. In Kingston, they sang O Canada! as the band took to the stage.
And the Hip didn't hold back on their Man Machine Poem Tour, mixing up the music, the new and the favourite, every night to be anything but predictable.
"Thank you to the Prime Minister for coming to the show," Downie said as the concert wound down. "Thank you to everybody for coming to the show."
"Thanks for listening. Have a nice life," he added before leaving the stage.
Everyone knew, though, that it was not the last word for The Tragically Hip. They came back for three encores before finishing with Grace Too and Ahead By A Century:
First thing we'd climb a tree,
And maybe then we'd talk,
Or sit silently,
And listen to our thoughts,
With illusions of someday,
Cast in a golden light,
No dress rehearsal,
This is our life.
August 21, 2016 07:55am
From High Up Above is not a Hip song though. It is called Grace Too.
Here is the full set list:
It was a 3 hour show. Gord has amazing stamina!