The Tragically Hip’s final concert tour has been less emotional than a Brock University pop culture professor expected. Instead, the iconic Canadian band is doing what it does best: putting on amazing shows.
“They’ve made it about the music,” says Scott Henderson, associate professor in the Department of Communication, Popular Culture and Film and executive director of the Popular Culture Association of Canada. “They’ve been coming out and doing what they love to do, which is playing the music.”
The Hip play a concert in Ottawa Thursday night and then wrap up the Man Machine Poem tour in their hometown of Kingston Saturday night. The band’s final concert — a result of lead singer Gord Downie’s diagnosis of an incurable form of brain cancer — will be broadcast live, commercial-free by the CBC.
It will also be streamed live in countless public gatherings across the country, including at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Scotiabank Convention Centre and at Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls, and at Civic Square in Welland.
“The last time we saw something like this was maybe the Summit Series in 1972, where schools were rolling out TVs and everyone wanted to see it,” Henderson says. “The Tragically Hip concert is already a live, commercial-free broadcast on the CBC, but still people want to watch it in unfold in groups. People want to share the energy.”
He says the final tour is bringing people together.
“There has been a lot of people that have been thinking about what it means to be Canadian and it has made people think about Canadian pop culture.”