The countdown is on to what could be the most anticipated rock concerts in Victoria in a very long time. Keith Vass reports.
The Tragically Hip will kick off what is likely to be their last Canadian tour at the Save-On Foods Memorial Centre Friday night, and many people are still trying to find a way to secure tickets.
Q FM program director Mark Zerr says the station has been deluged with response from listeners since news broke in May that frontman Gord Downie was facing a terminal brain cancer diagnosis, and the band’s planned Man Machine Poem tour, expected to be its last, would begin in Victoria July 22.
“We’re getting tons of requests [for Hip music] but with that we’re getting stories of maybe meeting them or seeing them at a small club or the number of times people have seen them,” he said. “There’s that badge of honour for how many times you’ve seen the band.”
With one day left to go before the Hip’s Victoria show, dozens of fans have posted online classifieds on UsedVictoria.com, pleading for a chance to see the band and echoing complaints about online sales that saw many tickets go to scalpers.
Fan and writer Robert Wiersema was able to score tickets, for the first and likely last time he’ll actually see the Hip live.
“This is the really sad thing for me, I think I’ve taken the Hip for granted the last 25 30 years,” he said. “It’s sort of like what Joni Mitchell says, you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone, or just about to be gone.”
Wiersema said Downie’s place in Canadian music and literature will likely always remain unique.
“I think he’s a great poet, I think he’s a great songwriter, and being able to bring those two things together with a band like the Hip that he’s got behind him it’s an unbelievable synergy.”
University of Victoria fine arts professor Melissa Avdeeff studies popular music. She says the Tragically Hip have a legitimate claim to the title of “Canada’s band.”
“Because on the one hand you have the great music that’s great to just put on a party and people can listen to in the background or just drink beers at some bush party out back, but on the other hand if you want that deeper connection there is the amazing poetry of Gord Downie that brings it to that other level ,that unites not only people across the nation but maybe different generations, different socioeconomic demographics.”
For Tragically Hip fans still desperate to be there for what is likely to be their last concert on the Island still have one last chance. The band will release tickets to 50 winners through an online lottery through their website Friday morning.