*Updated with pictures and the London set-list from The Tragically Hip show @ Budweiser Gardens August 8th, 2016*
— The Tragically Hip (@thehipdotcom) August 9, 2016
Do you know anyone who doesn’t know Gord Downie’s voice? Do you know anyone who can’t sing along to Wheat Kings or Ahead by A Century? It’s hard to find someone who isn’t familiar with that unmistakable voice, and the sweet sounds of The Tragically Hip, a little bit country, a little bit blues, and a lot of rock and roll. The soundtrack for an entire country weaves in and out of stops the band has had on tour over the years. Through thirteen albums, this band is fortunate enough to have the same line-up now that they had in 1984 – Gord Downie, Rob Baker, Paul Langlois, Gord Sinclair and Johnny Fay. How many bands can say that, these days?
Maybe I’m just being all sentimental because it’s the Tragically Hip’s final show in London, Ontario today, but I think many Canadians have been feeling this way at some point this summer. I know I’m going to cry tonight. It’s hard to imagine that this band’s live run will come to an end on August 20th when they play their hometown show in Kingston, Ontario. Maybe I feel like I’ve taken the band for granted? Working at FM96 has given me the privilege of seeing this band live many times. Twice at Rock the Park since I’ve lived in this city. Twice at Budweiser Gardens. How many times have I seen this band live somewhere on Canada Day? I can’t count how many Tragically Hip shows I’ve seen on one hand and for that I am far too lucky.
Although I always knew of the band, this band’s true value didn’t become clear until 2007. I was living in a house on Mill Street, right beside the Ceeps, downtown London. You can still see what was once my bedroom window looking out on to the front porch of that ugly blue house that you can’t miss, on the south side of the street close to Richmond. Three girls lived upstairs…three girls lived downstairs. The girls upstairs were in their final year of university at UWO. The three girls downstairs, myself included, were only in our second year. For six girls from completely different backgrounds with completely different interests, we somehow found one thing in common. The Tragically Hip was a soundtrack we could all agree on to set the stage for a great night. Little Bones to start the night out with some beers, and Bobcaygeon to wind down after a night out at Ceeps. Both the girls upstairs and downstairs would reminisce about the last time they saw the band live, and look forward to the next time we would see them again. Age and background didn’t matter, the Hip was playing and we didn’t have to have much more than that in common.
The Tragically Hip is not just a band. The Tragically Hip is Canada’s soundtrack. The Tragically Hip has been playing around a backyard fire, a camping trip, and on a cottage dock at some point during your life, and mine. The Tragically Hip is both a comfortable and effortless background for any summer day, hockey game, or road trip. The Tragically Hip is my band, and yours. The Tragically Hip may not play live again as we know them, but we’ll have the music and memories forever.
I realize I’m being a little more sappy than you’re used to, but, tonight’s it. So sure, if you’re going to Budweiser Gardens for the show, take one picture. Take a short video. Give yourself a memory of a beautiful night in London, Ontario with one of the best live bands in the world and thousands of your closest friends. But, don’t you dare get lost in your phone. Not tonight.
So, in closing…tonight when you’re Lining up, waiting on the trickle down
Knowing Something’s up, taking time to get around
Embrace the Belly up, all the drinks are on the crown
It’s just a matter of trickle down.
Missed the show? Join us at London Music Hall August 20th for Long Time Running including a live broadcast of the Hip’s final hometown show in Kingston on HUGE screens with local tributes all day.