That night in Toronto: The Tragically Hip @ Air Canada Centre. 08.10.16

By Jennifer Durley

Last night I stood in a crowd of about 20,000 people as we shouted in unison “at the hundredth meridian, where the great plains begin” like our lives depended on it. What a bunch of hosers.

Sometimes concert experiences – especially at large venue ones – are marred by the poor behaviour of other concert-goers. Not tonight. We weren’t there just for ourselves. We were there for Gord Downie. For the Tragically Hip,  a band we hold dear. For songs that have defined our Canadian experience.

We greeted the band and the opening chords of “The Luxury” with deafening cheers, but the moment Gord began to sing, we stopped to listen. Our cheers ebbed and flowed around his voice like waves. Not one word he sang or spoke would be drowned out by our noise. They were far too precious.

Sure, there were times when we all joined in to sing the anthems of our lives (“Gift Shop”, “Ahead by a Century”) – if we could manage it through the tears. And while many of us came to tears several times over the course of the night, the overall vibe was of energy and love. The source of the emanation was on stage in a shiny suit, givin’er.

I don’t proclaim to be anything more than average knowledge of the Hip’s catalogue. There were a number of songs that I couldn’t name, some that I’d forgotten about, and some I’d never heard before. But some, oh, but some that pierce the heart of me (“Flamenco” (!) “Poets”, and “Grace, Too”).

This band! This band that walked us through the valley of the shadow of death with a haunting and beautiful performance of “Wheat Kings”, and then restored our souls with “50 Mission Cap”.

This band that played their first set in tight configuration like they were on a small club stage.

This band that rocked out hard but ended the show with hugs.

This man! This man who with strength, courage, humility and an unparalleled depth of showmanship gave us a performance we’ll never forget.

This man who drank in our love and then poured it back out for us.

This man who brought poetry into our lives in a way no one else could ever have done.

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

Check the full setlist for this show here. Have you attended any shows of the Hip’s “Man Machine Poem” tour? How many times have you seen them live? What’s the best memory you have related to them? Let us know in the comments and you’ll be featured in next Friday’s post. 

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135 thoughts on “That night in Toronto: The Tragically Hip @ Air Canada Centre. 08.10.16

  1. Well done Durlz!
    Like everybody else here, I have had my share of moments with The Hip as the soundtrack starting way back in ’89. I regret never having seen them live as I’ve been told by many that their shows were epic. Honestly I’m not so into nationalism but I agree that the Canadian identity has been hugely influenced by these blokes in a meaningful way. It’s all very emotional, gonna go see who’s cutting onions & tell them to stop…xo

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  2. @Wes, You should have an instagram image
    @Reg, I hope you don’t mind me editing the code on your post to get the image to appear

    @all, If you saw a broken version of this page I am sorry if you don’t see it… erm… nothing to see here, move along to the next comment

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  3. the hip were my first arena rock concert, when I was in grade 9. I’ve seen them in concert another… 5(?) times after that. Always a great concert, and their opening bands were often some of Canada’s finest indie bands. Plaskett, the rheostatics, weakerthans, etc. I feel lucky to have seen them as often as I have. I didn’t have the chance to see them this time, on this tour because tickets were sold out instantly.
    2004’s In Between Evolution is maybe my favourite album by them, it’s painfully under-rated.
    Other than that, Day For Night, Road Apples, Fully Completely… they all have a spot. I surprise myself sometimes, looking through my cd’s and I have like, 10 Hip albums.
    Anyway, cool that you went to the show and had a rad time JDurly. Thanks for the wrap up!

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  4. Wow, that’s a great piece of writing Jennifer.

    Everything I am reading makes me regret in hindsight not trying harder to get tickets for the show here once I discovered I would be in the city.

    That’s a regret I’ll have to live with.

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  5. Hellooo
    What a nice review by Jdurlz! ❤️

    @Garf it’s ok! I just thought it was “still loading” but otherwise would appear (._. ) thanks for fixing it.

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  6. Good one Ms Durley!
    I have a Hip memory that relates to the Olympics. I drove down to Atlanta in 1996 with my friend Terry Cutts to watch the Olympic games down there. The Tragically Hip was in heavy rotation on our long drive. I don’t know if anyone else experiences this but there are certain songs that evoke memories of hearing them in specific places. ‘Wheat Kings’ is crossing the border into the USA for me.

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  7. tickets here were gobbled up by non fan douchebags who then complained that the songs didn’t sound exactly like they do on the record and that heaven forbid, they played new songs too! Dumbasses. They might as well have been yelling “Freebird!”

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  8. Good show (hopefully) at the Sheep tonight: Rebelle (prev. The Strain), The Kents, and Bad Girls.

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  9. the kents are from lindsay – i lived in lindsay for a year. kent street is the main drag downtown.
    that’s all I know.

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  10. Good Morning. Lovely review JDurlz! I feel like I was there myself. Sadly, I’ve never seen the Hip. It’s not that I didn’t like them but somehow they slipped by me in between my punk rock years and transition to other musical genres. I love the lyrical quality of their music and the uniqueness of Gord’s vocal delivery. This one’ gonna hurt like hell.

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  11. even during all my musical fads and fazes, the hip were a constant to me, even when it was uncool to like them, i still did. sometimes they were more prevalent in my life than others but they were always there.

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  12. omigod, JDurlz, this is SO GOOD. JDurlz for Our Basement Toronto correspondent! Or one of them, anyway. I want to read more JDurlz words. Lots more.

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  13. One particularly ‘Hip’ time was hanging out at my then-boyfriend’s place whose mom lived on Pigeon Lake between Lindsay &….Bobcaygeon. Yep. Those constellations…
    “it was just outside of Bobcaygeon…” doesn’t have quite the same ring.
    I’m babysitting a friend’s daughter, we’re going to try swimming before lightning hits.
    Be nice & don’t fall down kids:)

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  14. I too once had a Bobcaygeon moment while driving to Bobcaygeon. Ahhh, the Kawartha Lakes. So nice around there.

    unrelated to Bobcaygeon, Boots Or Hearts is one of my fave Hip songs.

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  15. One and only time I saw them was Another Roadside Attraction
    They were a great ending to a great night of music.

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  16. Bobcaygeon, lovely town, my brother is currently living there. We really need to get back there to see him again, now that the doesn’t travel anymore.

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  17. FT, we share that. Boots or Hearts has been a favourite of mine since 1989. It’s one of those wonderfully “loose” songs of the Hip’s.

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  18. Perhaps the 3 finest songs on Up To Here are Boots or Hearts, New Orleans Is Sinking (of course), and 38 Years Old.

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  19. we tried to start a basement band in grade 9 or so. One of our first attempts at a song was Blow at High Dough.
    I got kicked out of the band due to major suckage about 3 practices in. Me and another friend started a noise punk band instead. The songs were easier and you just had to scream into the mic, didn’t matter what the words were. We played one show and that was the ernd of my musical career.

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  20. my friends who were in the other band though, they did eventually nail Blow at high dough, along a few other Hip tunes. They all went on to be competent musicians and played in actual bands playing actual songs.

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  21. who runs the our basement insta? hasn’t been touched in a few weeks. also, trying to figure out what the image is that’s used as the profile pic. anybody?

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  22. Ohhhh, a racoon! Or as Ricky would say, “rakuns”.

    Is… tiffy “here”? I didn’t really know she was, haven’t seen her on this site, but then, I’ve only been here intermittently. I don’t think she likes me very much. Which is fine.

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  23. i have an ex who lives up in GP, I don’t know how she ended up there but I saw her post something recently about their folkfest.
    allegedly, mcleans magazine (shit disturbers) just called GP “Canada’s Most Violent/Troubled/Fucked City”.
    Remember last year they called Winnipeg “Canada’s Most Racist City”?

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  24. huh just discovered that a song I posted from a TX band called Turnpike Troubadours is a cover of an old Old 97’s tune, from 20 years ago. Not sure how I missed old 97s…must’ve been heavy in my Celtic music phase then, and then kids put keeping up with music on hold for a bit

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  25. The Tarp King lived and worked in GP when the kids were young, we joined him there when school was out for the summer. It was nice there when we visited, but we were in vacation mode then and it was 26 years ago.

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  26. The biggest international music festival that happens in the city just revealed their lineup.
    And there’s nothing I’m dying to see! So I don’t have to go 🙌 (It’s expensive and annoying and it was a miracle I didn’t have to pay $100 to see Alvvays and DFA play six songs each)

    UNLESS! The boyfriend wants to see The Killers. ’cause Boyfriends.
    What do you think?

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  27. @Garf We did during the first editions, then they it got difficult. Truth is I don’t even feel tempted this year, and that’s even relieving.

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  28. there’s some decent bands on there I guess. $100 probably seems reasonable. I dunno.
    The Interstellar Rodeo is happening here this weekend and it’s $99 for ONE DAY. A weekend pass was probably ~$300. What the actual fuck.

    Not gonna happen.

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  29. and the rodeo lineup is mediocre, at best. Sure, ther’e’s some cool bands but essentially paying $99 for Wilco and to hang out with friends, I don’t think so. I’ve seen them before and I can hang out for free.

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  30. Parquet Courts and Eagles of Death Metal are the 2 that really catch my eye on the list. The rest I don’t care about/fell pretty meh about or never even heard of. Parquet Courts are pretty cool though, their most recent album t’aint bad.

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  31. @FT I wish we could trade. Wilco + case/lang/veirs + assemble of good mid-size Canadian bands is great. But you know me.

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  32. Father John Misty on KEXP, they’ve been playing a lot of Canadian Indie today, just hear Wolf Parade earlier.

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  33. reginula, 12:22, good question, I haven’t decided.
    A guy at hockey the other week said there is a place that is showing it and will have $2.50 for a highball and a buck and a half for a beer. But I don’t know where that place is…
    There’s lots of places that will be showing it, I will likely either watch it at the Cube at old market square downtown or at home. Or some other random bar maybe. Dunno. I’ll PVR it for sure.

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  34. krib I paid $100 for the Saturday of Folk Fest and I don’t even remmebr who I saw play. Lisa Leblanc was my highlight but yeah, maybe not for $100. Ah well, i had a nice time.

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  35. shonica, are you going to the apres partay on Saturday? I will be joining the intersteller goer’s over there I think.

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  36. I am going to be in the middle of no where on Aug 20th; The Dempster Highway. I will certainly try and find some service as this is going to be one of those moments in time when we will all remember where we when …

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  37. @garfielduk I am sorry that I won’t be around here next Friday to see what you have in store for us! I will miss you while I am on the road.

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  38. @garfielduk ooh, that would be neat!
    PS morgana jr loved her sugar fix! she made herself leave the last one here when they left in the VW so that she could take it to school on the first day.

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  39. super quick!
    perspective
    to me that is an intense amount of sugar. she loved it, don’t get me wrong, i would just be ill.

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  40. well my body is total mess despite a lifetime of eating healthy so who is to say which is the better road to take.

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  41. @reginula I am at home. I am cleaning out the fridge, doing laundry and all sorts of other very exciting undertakings … and I don’t get a pay cheque at the end of it. I get being “done”, but always remember that it is good to have a job.

    the good part about cleaning out the fridge and not being at a place of work is that when i get to the freezer there is Gin in there as the reward!!!

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  42. @garfeilduk I am listening to that Mercury Prize playlist you shared here a while ago. Do you think there is any chance it will go to anyone besides Bowie?

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  43. @reginula wow, sorry about that. you already have a mom! just trying to communicate that sometimes looking at the glass half full helps a person finish the work week more easily ….

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  44. @Morgana Oooh, indeed! Sorry if it feels whiny, but at least you get me to remind me the importance of what I do. There are just better days. Thanks, anyway.

    Hahahaha, I do have a mom but it’s not here –she’s still at work too!–. Sometimes I just say moooom in hopes she’ll appear even when she’s 10 miles away. Not that it’s successful or mature, but it’s relieving. hahaha

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  45. @reginula Moms and their girls rule together 🙂

    and the really odd bit is that my girl says Moooom too when she is in need of a hug or some such type of reinforcement.

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  46. @garfy oooh! the lights are on now and it looks VERY impressive … but nothing for me way up in the Territories, boohoo!

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  47. @garfy oh, OK. I’ll fire up the iPad and do that. that is the device i will have on the road.
    I wish our friend who works for Apple IT was going to be on this trip with us. He makes his van named Cocoa into a hotspot and has all of the toys. We only had one day without service our whole trip down the Baja … for better and for worse.

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  48. @garfielduk I am sure, he get’s along very well with them. they are off the road for now. Their very expensive Vanaroo conversion (Subaru engine put into a VW) recently fell apart. There have been many emails and texts over it!

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  49. I ended up emailing myself the link. that is going to be so cool to reveal to everyone. thanks for the sneak peek;)

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  50. pretty bad year for anyone to be on the list though … hard to compete with a dead icon who made a killer album right at the end!

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  51. This is beautiful, JDurlz. Beautiful writing, beautiful title (Bobcaygeon!!!), what a wonderful piece. I can feel the love it in, very very much ❤

    Like

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