A night full of fantastic songs and partial goodbyes that was a result of three encores, the Tragically Hip closed out their Man Machine Poem tour in their hometown of Kingston, Ont. The sold out crowd at the K-Rock Centre and Hip fans being Hip fans, belted out our national anthem before the show even began while the fans watching from home were eagerly waiting for this night to come.
Gord Downie, along with Paul Langlois, John Fay, Gord Sinclair and Rob Baker refused to let up as they came onto the stage with a beer in hand as they opened up the show with Fifty Mission Cap, a hauntingly beautiful song about the mystery of former Toronto Maple Leaf player Bill Barilko, then it was Courage from Fully Completely. The band played almost non-stop for just under three hours. The Hip would eventually switch things up as they played What Blue, In a World Possessed by the Human Mind, and Tired as Fuck off their last album Man Machine Poem.
Gord lovingly teased Prime Minister Trudeau, who was in a box dawning a denim jacket and Hip t-shirt, as he called on Trudeau to “Take us where we need to go” and addressed Canada’s historical mistreatment of our Indigenous people to “get er’ done”.
Gord’s persona on stage did not stop him from wearing colourful suits and feathered top hats, however, it was the mystery behind the scarf around his neck was finally revealed to everyone. It was actually two socks tied together. “A singer needs to keep his or her voice always warm,” he said briefly before undoing the sock to reveal its heel before tying it back up.
As the show went on, it was clear that The Tragically Hip did not want to stop and it got more emotional when they played Fiddlers Green. They continued to play a great set with Twist My Arm, Poets, Wheat Kings, At the 100th Meridian, Little Bones and Fireworks. When it came to the encores, the Hip continued to rock it out with New Orleans is Sinking, Boots or Hearts and Blow At High Dough. Gord screamed and cried during Scared during the second encore that launched right into Grace Too as audience members had tears rolling down their cheeks. Downie, smiled, spinning playfully on his heels to the crowd. Eventually the emotion seemed too much for him and for all of us watching it was the beginning of the end of a wonderful night.
The band returned for a third encore as the band was in “uncharted waters” Downie said. The final encore started with Locked in the Trunk of a Car, and Gift Shop. Finally, Ahead By Century came and it was over after that. Downie danced, clapped, strutted, waved, and bowed to the crowd. The band all hugged and stood arm in arm waving to the crowd one last time, but that didn’t stop Gord from addressing the crowd one last time. “Thanks for listening in the back. Thanks for listening, period. Have a nice life”.
The Tragically Hips final show was crafted perfectly in what was an incredible, passionate, respectful yet deeply intimate and emotional for all us across the country. They will always hold a special place in our hearts. Thank you, Gord.