Hip Fans Praise Iconic Band

Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip perform to a crowd of over 9,900 fans at Budweiser Gardens August 8, 2016. Photo courtesy of Blair Henatyzen.

It was an emotional night for Tragically Hip fans in London as the iconic band brought its Man Machine Poem tour to the city on Monday.

Stories of first concerts, favourite songs, and sharing the music with newer generations were swapped as fans waited with much anticipation for the doors to Budweiser Gardens to open.

Standing in line to buy a Hip t-shirt before the show, Hilary Davis predicted the performance would bring a lot of tears.

“Oh my God, yeah I totally plan on crying,” says Davis. “I wore waterproof makeup for that reason. I am definitely going to cry and if I know my fiancee, he will too.”

Davis and her fiancee Dom Avallone came from New York to see the Hip perform in London and credits the band for her recent engagement.

“We got engaged two days ago because of the Hip,” says Davis. “You know the lyrics to Bobcaygeon – ‘that night in Toronto, with its checkerboard floors.’ We ended up renting an Airbnb in Toronto on Saturday with checkerboard floors and he knew it was a sign it was time to propose to me and I said yes.”

Davis says there is no band in the United States that could unite the country the way the Hip has brought Canadians together.

“It’s really cool the amount of pride for Canada that they exude. As a New Yorker, we love America, we love New York but the Hip makes me want to be Canadian,” says Davis.

In an 11th hour move, Vanessa Field ran from work to the venue after finding out a new block of tickets were released hours before show time .

“I’d never seen the Hip live before so I was actually really upset when I couldn’t get tickets. I kept trying and trying. This was the last resort and I got them,” says Field. “I grew up with them, my parents listen to them. Gord Downie is the ultimate Canadian. Any Canadian events you can think of, the Hip is always there. It’s sad this is the end.”

The 15-date tour was announced in June after Downie revealed he had been diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer in December. Only six shows remain on the tour which will wrap up in Kingston on August 20.

Graham Caracciolo and his girlfriend Laura Walker won tickets to the London concert from Free 98.1.

“We need to be there for Gord and we need to be there for the band. They are going to be losing the head off of the body that is the Hip,” says Caracciolo. “We need to kick money into charities fighting Gord’s disease.”

Since he was 12-years-old, Caracciolo has been to more than a dozen Hip shows. He says the band has been a staple of his life.

“It’s really going to hit me next summer when I know I can’t go see a Hip show. That’s when this is all going to sink in. It will be summer and beautiful and about time that the Hip cycles back to the area for a show and I need to be there but there will be no show,” says Caracciolo. “It’s like losing a friend. The music speaks to you, to your heart, and to your soul. These last few shows on the tour are going to be a sensory overload and then I’m not going to know what to do.”

The band came out to a full capacity crowd at Budweiser Gardens at 8:30pm and played 24 songs in a show that included two encores.

Downie referred to London as the Tragically Hip’s “home away from home” and recalled meeting his wife in the city.  He also asked if anyone in the crowd had been at their first London show and laughed when the entire crowd yelled in response.  A video recently surfaced on Youtube of that Harris Park show from Canada Day 1989. It took place just before the release of their album “Up To Here” and shows a very small group of people seated in front of the stage. London more than made up for that crowd with the more than 9,900 fans in attendance at Budweiser Gardens. The crowd remained standing throughout the more than two hour show..

Londoners who were unable to attend Monday’s Hip show will be able to see the final show of the tour on a big screen in Victoria Park.

The city announced last month that the CBC broadcast of the concert in Kingston will be shown in the downtown London park as part of an all-ages event.

The concert is expected to begin at 8:30pm on August 20. Anyone coming to Victoria Park is advised to arrive early, bring lawn chairs and blankets, and leave pets at home.


Setlist for Tragically Hip, August 8, 2016 at Budweiser Gardens:

  1. Opiated
  2. Blow at High Dough
  3. Boots or Hearts
  4. New Orleans Is Sinking
  5. In a World Possessed by the Human Mind
  6. Ocean Next
  7. What Blue
  8. Machine
  9. Summer’s Killing Us
  10. Gus: The Polar Bear from Central Park
  11. If New Orleans Is Beat
  12. It Can’t Be Nashville Every Night
  13. Grace, Too
  14. Scared
  15. So Hard Done By
  16. Daredevil
  17. Something On
  18. Poets
  19. Bobcaygeon
  20. Fireworks


21. Fully Completely

22. Pigeon Camera

23. Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)

2nd Encore:

24. Fiddler’s Green