Fans unable to get tickets to see The Tragically Hip’s final concert tour this summer will be able to watch the band’s Aug. 20 swan song on the CBC network, broadcast live from their hometown show at K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario.
Lead singer Gord Downie has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer but has responded to treatment well enough to embark on the 15-date tour behind their new album, Man Machine Poem.
The Canadian public broadcaster will make it available globally “in a live, commercial-free, all platform broadcast,” according to a press release announcing the special event, which will air at 8:30 p.m. ET across CBC Television, CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, CBC’s YouTube channels, and cbcmusic.ca.
The Hip — one of Canada’s biggest and most-beloved rock bands — shocked the country with the May 24 announcement that 52-year-old Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer a few months ago. Together since 1984, the group — guitarists Paul Langlois and Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair, drummer Johnny Fay and Downie — said they would tour behind the new album, which was written and recorded before Downie’s diagnosis.
A day after the news of Downie’s diagnosis was revealed they announced an 11-date arena tour, which kicks off on July 22 in Victoria, BC. When tickets went on sale, disappointed fans discovered they not only sold out in minutes, but many ended up on sites like StubHub, Vivid Seats, Craigslist, Kijiji, and Ticketmaster’s own reseller, for hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Four additional concert stops were added, but again, sold out instantly.
CBC then started talking with The Tragically Hip’s camp about broadcasting the final show after fan Grant Bishop wrote an impassioned open letter to CBC on his Facebook page and another fan, Kelly McAlpine, started a Change.org petition, which garnered almost 32,000 signatures.
“The Tragically Hip’s enigmatic sound, their poignant and witty lyrics, and the unique, special relationship they have with their fans have helped define and influence our identity as Canadians,” said CBC’s executive vice-president Heather Conway, in a statement. “It’s hard to overstate the importance of this tour. CBC and The Hip are so happy to be able to share this event with all Canadians and bring audiences across the country and around the world together to celebrate the moment.”
The tour is raising money for the Sunnybrook Foundation by donating a portion of the ticket sales.