The band's frontman made sure he said goodbye in the best way.
The weekend saw the final show of iconic Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, completing their last summer tour in the wake of frontman Gord Downie's diagnosis with an inoperable brain tumour. Far from a sorrowful event, however, it seemed more to be a lesson in national pride in much the same way as the Super Bowl or the Olympics.
Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip may be dying, but his memory will live on
Perhaps it's an exaggeration, but on a cultural scale it feels as though the last hurrah of The Tragically Hip gleaned more attention through the media than any other important national event of recent years. Even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed his face at the show in Kingston, Ontario on Saturday night (August 20th 2016).
'This is a moment that's going to be extremely powerful for all Canadians, I know', Trudeau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 'Gord and the Tragically Hip are an inevitable and essential part of what we are and who we are as a country. And tonight we get to say thanks, and we get to celebrate that.'
In May, at the age of 52, Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. But instead of mourning or quietly bowing out of music, he and the rest of the band - Rob Baker, Gord Sinclair, Johnny Fay and Paul Langlois - took the chance to launch a final tour to celebrate their almost 20-year career. It culminated in a huge show at Rogers K-Rock arena in their hometown, located on The Tragically Hip Way just off of Barrack Street. The concert was live-streamed nationally, and over 15,000 fans watched the televised show at Kinston's Market Square.
While their musical dexterity has barely been recognised outside of their home country, in Canada they are legends - almost literally. They have received fourteen Juno Awards (kind of like the Canadian Grammys) in their career, earned a star on Canada's Walk of Fame, been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, honoured at the Royal Conservatory of Music and been recognised at the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards. Plus, in 2013, they even appeared on a postage stamp for Canada Post alongside Rush, The Guess Who and Beau Dommage.
The Tragically Hip released their first studio album 'Up to Here' in 1989, and their last on June 17th this year. 'Man Machine Poem' went to number one in the Canadian charts and, featuring the singles 'In a World Possessed by the Human Mind' and 'Tired As Fuck', it marked a worthy end to such an important piece of Canadian history.