The Tragically Hip are Canada’s musical equivalent to maple syrup and only 8 days remain until the boys from Kingston rock out potentially one final time (if you’re an eternal optimist). You can consider yourself practically a lottery winner if you have seen or are going to see one of the four final shows. I haven’t won the “lottery” for this final tour, but I am a Hip fan to the core. I have seen The Tragically Hip perform 41 times. That’s more than once a year for my entire life. My last time was at the Kitchener Aud on June 29th, 2015 – not long before Gord and the rest of us knew that just a short 13 months later the band would embark on their final tour. This one is for the fans and a passionate victory lap for the man that many call the most captivating lead singer in the history of Canadian Music. If you are asking who the many are then you haven’t been on a Hip Fan Board chatting about this tour.
Having followed the band in my late teens and early 20’s from Buffalo to Philly, Washington, Chicago and some very obscure places like the Grapevine Festival in Erie Pennsylvania) it was one night in Toronto that I have to say I recall the most – maybe because it’s still fresh in my mind. My 40th show was one that happened in January of 2015. The Band had decided to play a warm up show before the Fully Completely Tour kicked off and the venue of choice was the Danforth Music Hall. I lucked into a pair of tickets for the show and the energy in the room that night was electric. Gord was spot on and the band sounded as tight as they have ever sounded.
Having seen the band in numerous small venues in the US it was seeing them in a small venue on home soil with so many die hard Hip fans that made for a memorable night. I can still remember standing talking to David Bastedo (Hip Photographer) and saying how great a venue it was to see the band in and him saying it was a great venue to shoot them in as well. I really didn’t want that night to end. Much like many of the nights I spent having a few drinks and screaming “Courage” at the top of my lungs with 500-35,000. Another night that I can remember, although vaguely due to the passage of time and the swill-induced haze I was in, was a Saturday night in July of 1996. The festival was taking place just outside Toronto at MoSport Park (Future home to Boots & Hearts) It was a weekend jammed with some of Rock’s finest. The headliners on a hot Saturday night in Ontario were the Hip. The crowd was somewhere around 80,000 strong that night. It literally was a sea of people. With 65,000+ tickets sold and another 15,000 just walking into the venue due to breach of security it was the largest crowd I had ever been involved in and to see so many people rocking out to a band that literally grew up 2.5 hrs down the 401 was pretty remarkable.
I have read so many memories over the last couple weeks as the band makes its way across Canada one final time. I bought my first Hip album in ’91. Road Apples had a catchy tune on it that caught my ear and 25 years later I am still a die hard hip fan. So much great music. The early years you would listen to the Hip at house parties, bonfires, in the car, at work and even to get you warmed up for hockey games. I can’t imagine growing up without the sweet sounds of Gord and the boys making the soundtrack to my Canadian heritage. When the band plays its last note on August 20th in Kingston Ontario there will be millions tuned in across this great nation. CBC Televison will air in full the Final show. As we tune in and sing along with friends and family we will come together one final time as Hip Fans to celebrate one of Canada’s most iconic bands.
When it comes to the personal nature of why this is going to be the final tour for Gord and the boys, it’s not out of insensitivity that I fail to go into it in this posting. There are no words. The trailblazers will go out in with fireworks emulating heaven there is no doubt about that. Thanks for the memories fellas.
Corey Kelly / @CoreyKelly76