Rock band The Tragically Hip have played an emotional farewell concert in their home city after their lead singer was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. The band, whose songs were seen as a celebration of Canadian life, played to tens of thousands of fans in Kingston, Ontario. Thousands more piled into the city’s main square to watch it on big screens. In the audience was prime minister Justin Trudeau, who said the band had “been writing Canada’s soundtrack for over 30 years”. The show, at the end of a 15-date tour, was broadcast live on national TV amid a wave of sympathy for lead singer Gord Downie, who is dying from the most aggressive form of brain cancer.
Thank you, thank you, thank you music lovers!
The Tragically Hip after the concert
The concert ran for three hours, with the stricken Downie refusing to let up, sweat pouring down his emotion-filled face. They touched on highlights from the band’s long discography, including crowd-pleasers Nautical Disaster, New Orleans Is Sinking and Bobcaygeon and ending with Ahead By A Century. They came out for three encores, with Downie proclaiming they were “officially into unchartered waters”. He then closed the concert with a simple “thank you for that” before the band hugged and kissed on stage.
I went to the Aug. 5 concert in Winnipeg. I would not have missed it for anything. It was the greatest moment getting to see him perform. It was my favourite Hip memory realizing I could still go to concerts, which I love, and it is all thanks to the bravery of this man on stage. He is an inspiration
Fan and brain tumour sufferer Noreen Luptak