Tragically Hip fans unite during emotional show in Winnipeg

It was nearly impossible to find any fans unmoved by the Tragically Hip’s performance in Winnipeg on Friday.

'I wouldn't have missed this for the world,' says fan

More than 16,000 fans watched the Tragically Hip perform Friday night at Winnipeg's MTS Centre. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

It was nearly impossible to find any fans unmoved by the Tragically Hip's performance in Winnipeg on Friday. 

For many, the show was a tearful goodbye to a band they have known and loved for decades.

The Tragically Hip's lead singer, Gord Downie, announced earlier this summer he has an incurable form of brain cancer. Some of the proceeds of the tour this summer will be donated to Sunnybrook Foundation to support cancer research.

One fan, Rhys Delaronde, described Friday's show as "magical [and] religious."

"Anybody who was here ... will remember it for the rest of their life."

35-year-old Joanne Schiewe has the same kind of cancer as Downie. True North Entertainment gave her front row seats and VIP access before the show.

On Twitter she described the performance as "Amazing!!!"

Rory Young travelled all the way from Nova Scotia to see what was his 37th Tragically Hip show.

"This show was about emotion. I thought the walls were going to crumble when Gord walked on stage. He could have read the phone book out loud and it still would've been a great show," said Young.

Young's 12-year-old daughter, Kira Young, equally enjoyed the show by his side.

She said it was "loud but really great. I really felt a bond between everybody in the room."
Rhys Delaronde said Friday's show was religious and magical. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

David Hamilton drove to Winnipeg from Regina to see his favourite band.

Unlike many who had to resort to paying hundreds of dollars for a ticket, Hamilton said he was lucky to purchase one in the fans-only presale.

"I was able to only land a single at $150 but I actually was extremely happy with my seat," he said.

For Hamilton the Hip are deeply tied to nostalgia. He calls them the soundtrack to his youth.

"Anytime a Hip song comes on it takes me back and I will find myself singing along to every word," he said.

Perhaps for that reason, Friday's concert was more emotional than Hamilton expected it to be.

"I found myself reflecting on all the past Hip tours and the flood of emotion was at times overwhelming. Gord and the band were amazing ... My thoughts and prayers go out to Gord and his family," he said.

'I can die happy'

Other fans streaming out of the MTS Centre were equally heartsick to imagine the two-hour show might be the band's last in Winnipeg.
Matt Vis of Thunder Bay said he can die happy now that he's seen The Tragically Hip live in concert. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

Matt Vis, who travelled from Thunder Bay for the concert, said seeing the Tragically Hip for the first time was a Canadian rite of passage for him.

"I can die happy saying I've seen the Tragically Hip live in concert," he said.

Vis said he decided he had to see the band in person after learning he may not have many more chances to do so.

"I wouldn't have missed this for the world," he said.

If Vis could say anything to the band? It would be "Thank you."

"Thank you for tonight. Thank you for the past 30 years."

For those who missed Friday's show, CBC will broadcast the Tragically Hip's final show on their Man Machine Poem Tour on a big screen at Assiniboine Park on Aug. 20 and live on CBC Television.