When writing previews I usually try to remain impartial, take personal preferences out of the equation, be open to suggestions (especially in support of local bands) and present a little something for everyone. Well this week too bad, I’m only previewing one show.
The Hip’s Last Show
As a music fan and/or a Canadian I’m sure you’re well aware that the Tragically Hip will be playing their last show this Saturday night in Kingston. While most people around the country will be watching/listening at home on pretty much any device they want (CBC will be airing it on TV, radio and all their online platforms commercial free) there is the option of making this a more communal experience.
In Montreal the best choice (and by best I mean the one I’m doing) is to head over to Monkland and Melrose where the Flavours of Monkland street fest was already scheduled to take place and so they decided to partner with CBC and present the show on a big screen. This fest is food truck heaven with a full liquor license and a few activities, such as live music, sprinkled in.
Admittedly this is grafting one event on top of another but if you want the “crowd experience” this is the best bet in the area.
Another solid choice would be to head to one of the many bars that have promised to air the show. Trying to compile a comprehensive list of all the locations screening the concert is proving impossible but suffice it to say you’re safe with any Irish Pub, downtown or otherwise. My suggestion is to call first and try to get a reservation.
The rest of the preview has nothing to do with ideas for where to see the show, I need to say a few things.
Anyone who has seen up close the brutal certainty and finality of terminal cancer knows the emotional toll being placed on Gord and his friends/family right now. It’s amazing that he’s been willing to go on this last tour and I’m not sure how anyone could lift that heavy a weight.
He didn’t have to do a final tour, we all would have given him a pass. So then why go through it? I think saying he’s doing it for “the fans” or for closure or to raise money for cancer research is far too simple. I mean it is all those things but it’s more than that.
I think the best way to explain is with my own personal encounters regarding the “myth” of Gord Downie because it seems that everywhere you go in Canada there’s always someone who has met and hung out with him just waiting to tell you their story. There was the guy on my hockey team who spent a weekend with him at a bachelor party, the former coworker who would always have drinks with him when he came to town or the friend of a friend in Toronto who used to “hang with him before he was big.”
It seems that Gord has shown up at every local bar in the country, had a beer with every person in that bar and shared a unique story-worthy moment with all of them. In all occasions the tellers of these tales always had the same things to say, “he was just there hanging out like one of the guys”, ” the dude was so down to earth”, “he would chat with everyone that came up to him”.
While obviously not all of these encounters occurred I think the myth around Gord stems from the fact that we see him as our friend, the approachable star, the uniquely Canadian form of celebrity. Smart, funny, humble and hard working. This last show isn’t a farewell concert, we’re parting ways with an old and dear friend. No one wants this to happen, we all just realize it has to and we have to be a part of it.
Ok enough serious talk, this is a music blog after all. Here’s (arguably) the best improv moment from (clearly) the best at improvising. Sorry “killer whale tank” fans, this one’s better.
* Featured Image: Gord Downie performs with The Tragically Hip in Vancouver July 23rd (CBC)