The CBC’s historic live broadcast and stream of the last stop on the Tragically Hip’s Man Machine Poem tour in Kingston meant that most of Canada saw the same show last night. Judging by the #CBCtheHip hashtag, we also all had the very best time.
CBC Music was lucky enough to be inside the show, in the middle of the floor, square with the centre of the stage, with a prime view of unrivaled frontman Gord Downie as he danced, screamed, sang and performed, possibly, the most important show of his life. It was both intimate and raucous — the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston is approximately just one-third the size of the other stadiums on the Man Machine Poem tour — as the Hip performed for nearly three hours to a rapturous audience. The hometown crowd went wild saying thank you to its favourite sons and longtime Hip heads, some of whom had traveled thousands of kilometres, tearfully toasting their beloved band.
And even though everybody essentially saw the same show, the camera couldn’t pick up everything. Here are five things that happened inside the K-Rock Centre that viewers at home probably didn’t get to see.
1. About 10 minutes before the Hip were supposed to come out, the back half of the crowd suddenly burst into "O Canada." Within seconds, most of the room was on its feet, 6,000 people singing the national anthem together.
2. A giant Canadian flag made its way around the entire stadium, down onto the floor, and back up and around. A large banner that read "Thank you Prime Minister Downie" also travelled the stadium, pausing for effect underneath the box where Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself was watching the concert. One fan also brought a large, inflatable killer whale — a nice nod to Downie’s famous killer whale tank rant — which inevitably ended up getting bounced around the crowd on the floor, diving up and down in the sea of bodies like a real whale breaking waves in the ocean.
3. Speaking of Trudeau, the Prime Minister appeared in his box about 15 minutes before the Hip took the stage, and was greeted with a decent round of applause. He took selfies with people seated near him, while the rest of the audience tried to snap pictures from their seats.
4. Fans came from all over, but very few had an experience like the one Fredericton’s Mark Gorman told CBC Music about encountering Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew (who co-produced the Hip’s most recent album, Man Machine Poem) at a convenience store before the concert. Gorman says Drew was checking to make sure he could leave his car there through the show and after-party, and Gorman took the “after-party” prompt as a chance to spontaneously sing R. Kelly’s “Ignition” with Drew in the store.
5. There were a lot of tribute outfits, handmade t-shirts, metallic sparkle jackets (a nod to Downie’s wardrobe on this tour), but among the best was this dress by Erin Gagnon, who came all the way from Plattsburgh, NY. She said she’d seen the Hip so many times that she “lost track at 30.”
Josh Voros, who traveled from Woodstock, Ont., worked all week on inking his white button down, writing the title of every song, released and unreleased, by hand. “Every song is like a gift,” Voros said.
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