Sunday, August 7, 2016
We went to The Tragically Hip concert on Friday night.
I had been waiting for this day. This concert. This show. I'd been waiting for this one last experience with Gord Downie-- Canada's coolest older brother, for what seemed to be forever.
There was a bitterness to yesterdays sweetness though, because through the excitement there was grief that this was goodbye.
Cancer is eating his brain, and instead of dying at home he is living the fuck out of his life across Canada with one last hurrah. If the rest of the shows have been like the one in Winnipeg yesterday, then it's apparent that Gord is giving all of himself to his fans and to his art. He is doing what he loves, and he's not letting the vicious c stop him.
He is the most alive dying man I have ever seen.
It was surreal. It was loud, and everyone was wearing their Hip merch, old and new. It was like a cult of fans who had known The Hip for some of the most important years of their lives trying to hear the soundtrack of their lives just one last time. Trying to be part of something that actually meant more than just dollars and choreographed dances. Trying to see if they could spot the terminal cancer in the flamboyant Gord Downie. Trying to savour every second of the last time.
It was truly an honour just to be there.
The MTS Centre was packed. More people would have been there, but the demand for tickets was too high. Everyone there won some sort of karmic lottery. Robots snatched up all the tickets to sell on StubHub on the day they went on sale, and he general public never stood a chance unless they were part of a fan club, or a particular credit card holder. Or, unless like Chris and I, they had a friend who was willing to sell tickets to them.
But for a show like this; a band like this; a part of your Canadian soul and identity, you just had to be there to say goodbye. Whether people were ripped off by scalpers or StubHub, or whether they got their tickets at face value, what the fans got was an experience that is invaluable.
They got to say goodbye. They got to feel that goodbye...
Gord Downie was supposed to live well into deep wrinkles and old eyes that had seen a lot. He was supposed perform countless more times, singing from his soul like the performer that he is. He was supposed to write more songs and poetry, and watch his kids grow and hold his grandbabies. He was supposed to live to see his own legend grow.
He won't though. He will die, and a part of us will die with him.
While his impending death truly is tragic, right now he is still alive and he is still giving one helluva performance. Winnipeg was an incredible sendoff to a man and a band who have been part of the soundtrack of my life since I was a kid.
Thank you Gord. May you find peace in whatever you believe, and may you live out the rest of your days happy, feeling loved and pain-free. Thank you for being part of my life for...Well, for what seems like forever. Thank you for doing this tour, and for sharing yourself with all of us.
We love you Gord.