The Tragically Hip at the ACC

I attended a Hip concert for the twelfth time last night. I fear it may have also been my last.

It's the first time I've gone solo to a Hip show, so I jumped on my bike at 6:30pm and head east to the ACC. It was hot, tailgaters were having a blast by Ontario Place and Jays fans were collecting near the dome. I locked up my bike, bought a tee shirt and got to my seat by 8pm.


The Hip opened with Courage and didn't let up for 2.5 hours. It was an incredible performance with a stellar playlist. What struck me as a huge fan for 27 years was how heavy certain lyrics sound when sung by a man with terminal brain cancer.

Use it up
Use it all up
Don't save a thing for later

~ Use It Up

Okay, you made me scared, you did what you set out to do
And I'm not prepared, you really had me going there for a minute or two
He said, you made me scared too, I wasn't sure I was getting through
I got to go, it's been a pleasure doing business with you

~ Scared

This one thing probably never goes away
I think this one thing is always supposed to stay
This one thing doesn't have to go away

~ Fireworks

See when it starts to fall apart
Man, it really falls apart
Like boots or hearts, oh when they start
They really fall apart, well fall apart

~ Boots or Hearts


The Tragically HIp closed with Ahead By a Century. In '99 I heard them play this song at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. Then, it felt hopeful, but last night it felt like goodbye.

Stare in the morning shroud and then the day began
I tilted your cloud, you tilted my hand
Rain falls in real time and rain fell through the night
No dress rehearsal, this is our life

~ Ahead By A Century

What I'll remember most is the total and absolute mutual adoration and admiration. All 20,000 were there to let Gord know he's appreciated. I have never, ever heard the ACC that loud, and I was at the gold medal juniors game against Russia. This level of love and respect was something very, very special.


Gord was in good spirits the entire night, full of knowing smiles and delivering the strong performance to which we Hip fans have grown accustomed. When Gord stood on stage after Ahead By a Century before the house lights went on, I didn't want him to leave. I wanted him to stay there forever. I did not want this concert to end.

Then, in the dark of night, I rode home along the lake, singing Hip songs as I pedaled.



Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)
Locked in the Trunk of a Car
At the Hundredth Meridian
In a World Possessed by the Human Mind
In Sarnia
What Blue
The Dire Wolf
Use It Up
It's a Good Life if You Don't Weaken
Throwing Off Glass
Grace, Too
Greasy Jungle
Nautical Disaster
Something On
New Orleans Is Sinking
Boots or Hearts
Blow at High Dough
Encore 2:
Gift Shop
Ahead by a Century

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Comments (12 - click here to join in!)

Rick C in Oakville

Nice tribute Mike, count your self lucky for getting the single seat.
I will have to enjoy it on the 20 th on the cbc.

August 13, 2016 @ 10:41 AM

Greg S

Hi Mike - Long-time listener, first time poster.

I was there last night as well; show number 17 for me. I'm still coming to terms with the fact that I watched Gord walk off the stage for the final time. Their February 2002 show at Lee's Palace was my most memorable concert experience to date, but last night may have topped it. As powerful and emotional as it gets.

I agree with your comment about the volume in the ACC. I found the crowd volume hit its peak during the "Him? Here? Now? No!" section at the end of Grace, Too as Gord walked back and forth from one edge of the stage to the other. Possibly the loudest cheers I've ever heard.

August 13, 2016 @ 5:56 PM


Sounds like a great event. You should do a quick podcast to talk about it, maybe have an industry guy on to talk about the Hips impact?

August 13, 2016 @ 6:17 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Great idea, but Toronto Mike'd is on vacation. :)

I would like to do something Hip with a "Hip expert" I respect. I have a couple of ideas....

August 13, 2016 @ 6:21 PM

Rick C in Oakville

Alan Cross or Jeff Woods again would be cool.

August 13, 2016 @ 7:07 PM

The Voice of Reason

First of all, I'm not a fan of the group, I'm just not into their
kind of music, a lot of the time if a Hip song comes on the radio I'll
switch stations.

But if you can't see why they're so popular, then I'm sorry but you must
be pretty dense. They're so popular because when they first started out,
they toured *relentlessly*. Basically if you lived in some dumbfuck town
in the middle of nowhere, the Hip would play there. I remember when I was
living in PEI, it was almost a sure thing that the Hip would play bot
Summerside and Charlottetown about once a year. *Nobody* was playing
Summerside back then. They've earned their popularity; they've played places
most bands wouldn't bother with. Even now that they're selling out stadiums,
they play a lot more places than most bands of their level of popularity

Also, even though I don't like their music, I have enormous respect for
the band, and I honestly think they're doing a lot to further the growth
of music in Canada. Think about how many indie bands they have asked to
tour with them. Thanks to the Hip, a lot more people have been exposed
to the Rheostatics, Eric's Trip, By Divine Right...

And let's not forget all the benefit shows that they organize, and the fact
that they reserve the best seats at their shows for their biggest fans (and
not just the ones with the most money or scalpers), and that a lot of
Downie's lyrics are very intelligent (and many of them possess a patriotism
that rivals those of Stompin Tom Connors).

But yes, it is very unfortunate that they have so many stupid fans. I
often find it hard to disassociate their music from all the stupid drunk
fratboy engineering student types that listen to their music (and yes, I
know there are lots of Hip fans that don't fit this category). Perhaps if
I could then I might learn to appreciate the Hip's music.

August 14, 2016 @ 7:09 AM

James Edgar

Great write up Mike, It was amazingly loud in there Wednesday when I went to the show, I thought it was possibly the fact that I was on the floor for the first time and hearing the crowd from a different perspective. I'm glad it was roar of appreciation for Gord and the boys.

This was my 6th show. all but one since 2000. During the early days i was a struggling artist and really busy not making a dime so i had neither money or time to see them. I really wish i had made it to one of the another roadside attraction shows.

It's kind of funny i never really realized that there were stupid hip fans until recently( no seeing them early on probably the reason) . I'm in a minority of my friends in loving the band and the lyrics most like them but many are indifferent. It wasn't until Mike mentioned it in a podcast ( Jeff woods?) that i thought about who i saw at shows and thought . Hmm yes a few asshats were there.

Of course I don't care. Not liking an artist because of there fans seems kind of silly.

August 14, 2016 @ 11:50 AM

the brother

I'm on the standby list to see the final concert with boom! Keep your fingers crossed for me tomorrow morning with Stu Jeffries!!!

August 14, 2016 @ 10:46 PM


To me its perfect they finished with "Ahead By A Century". I know some Hip fans will say it was just their top 40/popular song but for me its their signature piece. Just as Let It Be by the Beatles, Every Breath You Take by the Police, and One by U2 are for their respective bands, Century is IT for the Hip.

That signature song happens at the band's peak and no other song they compose can match it. Its not just the composition, its the performance in the recording of that song. I know, its all just my opinion but like I said, it was fitting that they ended their concert with century.

I'm so sorry I missed it. DAMN YOU, TICKETMASTER!!!

August 15, 2016 @ 3:02 PM


Just saw the Hamilton show. Never heard such a loud crowd. The energy in that place was nothing like I have ever experienced at a concert, and I have been to a lot of shows. While looking at the Toronto setlist you posted, I wish The Hip played a couple of songs that they played in Toronto ( Bobcageon, New Orleans & Nautical Disaster) but heck, at least they played Fiddlers Green in Steel Town) Hamilton setlist below...

At the Hundredth Meridian
Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)
Fifty-Mission Cap
In a World Possessed by the Human Mind
What Blue
In Sarnia
The Lonely End of the Rink
Yer Not the Ocean
Family Band
In View
So Hard Done By
Grace, Too
Escape Is at Hand for the Travellin' Man
Something On

Gift Shop
Don't Wake Daddy
Ahead by a Century

Encore 2:
Fiddler's Green
Twist My Arm

August 17, 2016 @ 1:31 AM


Like one of the previous posters mentioned, I was never a "huge fan" of the Hip back in the 90s. But, I can appreciate what they have done for the Canadian music scene. It is bad enough that I will never get the chance to watch the likes of R.E.M., Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana or the Beastie Boys play live, so I didn't want to miss out on an opportunity like this so I could better understand what makes the Hip so popular in Canada. Fortunately, one of my friends had an extra ticket to the final show, which ended up being both my first and last Hip concert unfortunately.

The lessons I have learned through this experience is you have to face your fears in life with dignity, like Gord is doing courageously, and if there is a general buzz about an artist or band, then you damn well better make an effort to try to see them in concert at least once in your life even if you aren't a devoted fan. Who knows? Maybe that one concert will change your opinion like mine did with this Hip concert. Wishing Gord some peace and comfort in his remaining days.

August 22, 2016 @ 10:19 PM

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