The Tragically Hip fan behind an extensive online "museum" of all things Hip will be in Ottawa Thursday night for the band's second-last performance in the Man Machine Poem tour.
In an interview Thursday with CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning, Torontonian Stephen Dame of the website A Museum After Dark, says it's a privilege to be following the band for some of what could be their final tour.
"It feels a bit like there's a national festival for The Tragically Hip going on right now. You hear the songs everywhere, I'm noticing more and more T-shirts on the street, obviously the band is a little bit more prevalent and on people's minds right now."
Dame has already attended a Toronto show — the band played three dates there last week — and said it rivaled performances he saw in the 1990s.
"It was like shows that I saw in 1998 or '99. Except for [frontman] Gord [Downie] looking down to reference lyrics every once in a while, you'd never know anything was wrong. He was riding his motorcycle, paddling the stage and doing all these kinds of manic, eclectic things that made us love him all those years ago."
At the end, when the rest of the band left the stage to allow Downie to wave goodbye, Dame said he was overcome with emotion.
"It hits you all of a sudden. ... It's amazing how affected I've become by all this stuff and how emotional this tour is becoming."
As for the Ottawa show Thursday night, Dame hopes the band closes with the song Courage from their third album Fully Completely.
"I get no greater kick than when Gord starts the kind of coda to that song, where he kind of speaks the words that Hugh MacLennan wrote almost 70 years ago now, and in the dark a bunch of rock-and-roll fans sing along to this work of a great Canadian author. That, to me, kind of sums up The Tragically Hip so well," Dame said.
"And of course, the theme of courage is especially pertinent right now, and I think that, if anything, we want Gord to feel hugged and we want him to feel loved and we want him to feel supported right now, and so courage is a great message to send."
After the Ottawa show, Dame will head to Kingston, Ont., to watch the final show on Saturday.
The tour's final show in Kingston on Saturday will be broadcast live on CBC TV, radio and online.
And here are some local screenings being held in and around Ottawa:
- Parkdale Park with Coun. Jeff Leiper.
- Dovercourt Recreation Centre.
- The Opinicon, Elgin.
- Hardy Park, Brockville.
- Union Jack Pub, Brockville.
- Port Theatre, Cornwall.
- Leo Boivin Community Centre, Prescott.