A sold-out hockey arena in Victoria, BC, was the perfect start to the Tragically Hip’s farewell tour. The Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre held more than 7,000 cheering fans that were determined to have a great time.
Friday’s concert started a 15 date cross-Canada tour promoting the Tragically Hip’s latest album, Man Machine Poem. Following the announcement in May that Gord Downie had developed incurable brain cancer, the Tragically Hip’s tickets for the show sold out fast. It has recently been revealed by CTV News that there has been a dramatic drop in ticket prices with StubHub releasing a number of tickets for highly reduced prices.
According to CBC, the Hip entered the sold out show with a bang, starting with “Boots or Hearts” and followed by “New Orleans is Sinking” and “Opiated” from their 1989 album, Up to Here.
Downie was in good form, if not a little relaxed, and came on stage, as stated by CP24, sporting a head-to-toe magenta ensemble and white fedora adorned with a feather. His voice was strong, but he did more standing than dancing, and the band seemed to be circled around him close.
There were many emotions running high in the sold out crowd. While songs like “Poets” brought the crowd into emotions high with cheers and chants of “Downie, Downie,” it was the slower ballads like “Long Time Running” that really drew the crowd in. Gord Downie, The Tragically Hip’s front man, barely spoke through the 2.5 hour long concert, but seemed to feel the emotions by holding the notes just that little bit longer than normal.
Hillary Krupa of Victoria attended the sold out show and noted to CP24 that “there was a sense of respect and honour, not a sad feeling to it, just a true sense of honouring the miracle genius that he is, and being there with everyone feeling it together.”
Downie occasionally took breaks while some videos of Canadian Landscapes were displayed on large overhead screens or the band continued to play. Other than that, the Tragically Hip played for most of the 2.5 hours, which included 26 songs and two encores.
The Tragically Hip is one of Canada’s top iconic bands, having released 16 albums and winning 14 Juno awards since their formation in 1984. It was no surprise to fans that the shows would be sold out, it was only a matter of trying to gain access to experience this historical concert.
Even with the drama around the sold-out tickets, and the concerns of scalpers inflating the prices, no one at the venue was thinking about that on this historic evening. Instead, they were caught up in the mood and honor of being at the show.
The final show for the tour is scheduled on August 20, 2016, in their hometown of Kingston, Ontario. This show will be live, televised by CBC, so if any fans have failed to secure tickets for whatever reason, they will be able to be included in the event.
At the end of the show, there was barely a dry eye within the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre. As the crowd cheered following the final song from the second encore, the band slowly left the stage. Downie stood alone on the stage saying “Thank you, thank you very much. Thank you for everything.” This show marks the start to series of sold-out crowds with a final tear in everyone’s eye.