This was finally it. The final show - ever. I don't think the magnitude of this event sank in until that morning. I was about to witness the final songs, the final dances, the final screams of encouragement - the finality of it all, forever. For me and many others like me this was going to shape our future lives from this point forward as the band has done in shaping who we are today.
As I drove to the venue I was trying to piece together fragments in my mind why this band meant so much to so many. It wasn't then that this came to me, it was on the dark ride home through the still night air after the first Edmonton show on July 28, 2016. I realized that this band is the first band within my generational lifetime that has been born, raised, built, climaxed and resolved itself to its origin in my life. You could argue other bands have done the same like RUSH, KISS and other notables like AC/DC; but I think when you look closely we weren't there as they were conceived in the minds of Canadians - we simply were swept up as fans. The Tragically Hip have a piece of each us within them - and there is a piece of them within us; this I believe is what binds us so strongly to them like family.
Arriving at the show I went to the Cowboys Casino to the silent auction to see many fine wares up for display and auction including one of my prints. Again the moment started to clarify inside me - in mere hours I would see the final performance.
The show launched in true form. Never stopping or wavering in any capacity. I won't bore you with the magnificent details of the evening. This performance was meant to be seen and not told about second hand. Gord Downie gave very few indicators of any illness or sub par performance. In his regular awkward Elvis like gestures and movements I saw a man building to his final night in Kingston. In the past 3 performances I have seen him somewhat reserved and conserving energy each night - but again on each night; releasing little by little and becoming comfortable with who he now is - but not letting a temporary illness define a legacy of music.
As I watched each song click by on my watch - the uncontrollable tears began to flow freely. This was it - there wasn't going to be anymore. I guess if I can make a prediction - I would say that in Kingston before everyone in attendance and tuned in through the CBC you will see a vintage Downie. Risen above it all, clad in his metallic armor - pounding through the catalog of hits one after the next in true style amidst microphone stand boxing, bull riding, hankerchief kickflips and bodily spins. The focus I believe has been preserving enough of himself for that final show. In 30 shows of which I have seen I believe this is how he would want to be remembered.
And then. . .it was over.
Someone asked me before the show if I was excited. I replied that I was a little bit; but for a different reason. I wanted it to be over with dignity and clarity and beauty. There is something prized about a clean break. The Tragically Hip and I parted on the best of terms - our terms. Thank you for the memories.