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Ten Shows into the Final(?) Tour, How’s the Tragically Hip Doing?

Well, thank you. Very well. In fact, this is feeling like the biggest celebration of Canadian music we’ve ever seen.

Fans have been loud and boisterous with their support and appreciation. The band’s playing is as tight as it’s ever been. And despite fears for his health, Gord looks and sounds great.

There’s no sense of self-pity, of doom or of The End. No eulogies, no premature burials, no maudlin moments. It’s been ten nights of pure, unadulterated rock’n’roll. Canadian rock’n’roll. It’s a celebration of all things good about music and the people who have the ability to make it.

A couple of interesting things:

  • Gord Downie’s chief oncologist has been to almost every show on the tour. His job is to make sure that Gord is well enough to perform each night–and thankfully, he’s had zero to do. As he told the CBC, “I never imagined him leaping around in a pink leather suit with a feathered gap.”  He also says “They have a carefully constructed set list that changes every night…. And I think given the potential worries about Gord’s memory or about word-finding, he’s just been so brave. He just says, ‘You know, let’s do this.’ And it’s been beyond my expectations.”
  • I missed this earlier, but the official colour of the Man Machine Poet Tour is grey. The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is encouraging fans to wear something grey to all the shows because this is the colour of the brain. Gord, of course, has been diagnosed with glioblastoma, an incurable form of brain cancer.
  • The Sunnybrook Foundation is collecting donations for the Gord Downie Fund. They’re not saying how much they’ve collected, but they’ll make an announcement after the final show on August 20. The money may go to brain cancer initiatives in general or just to glioblastoma research.

Something occurred to me the other night. Canadians tend to elevate our best rock acts to the level of cultural artefact. Few have attained this level–the Guess Who, BTO, Rush, Neil Young, Bryan Adams. But we’ve never actually had to say goodbye to any of these acts. They’re all still around in some way or another. There’s a finality with this Hip tour, the kind of which we as fans have never had to deal with. Sure, there have been farewell tours before, but never, ever one like this.

As we head towards the final show on Kingston on August 20, I can’t imagine how intense the emotions are going to get.

For another fan’s look at the tour, go here. And if you’d like to read a review of Wednesday’s Toronto show, go here.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38321 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

4 thoughts on “Ten Shows into the Final(?) Tour, How’s the Tragically Hip Doing?

  • Great article (as per usual)! While this may be new for Canadians, it reminds me in a way of how Glen Campbell went out preforming his final tour due to dementia.

    • True – one of the few times you knew it was someone’s last tour. With the older groups you never know if circumstances will turn it into a final and sometimes the “final” really isn’t – e.g. The Who in ’82

  • I would add Gordon Lightfoot to the list of cultural icons, also very much with us.

  • I was at the Toronto show Wednesday. Wow. Intense on so many levels but essentially a great ,NO EPIC rock show. Very happy to have had the experience,


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