If you’ve been looking for a music-related reason to put Cineplex’s new health and safety measures to the test, The Tragically Hip have just the double bill for you.
Starting on Friday, September 18th for a limited engagement, more than 60 locations including Galaxy Cinemas Barrie will be showing the 2017 documentary Long Time Running back-to-back with last ever Hip concert, originally broadcast on CBC as A National Celebration.
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Advance tickets are available now at Cineplex.com.
There’s no better occasion than during this unprecedented pandemic to relive how charismatic frontman Gord Downie was diagnosed with incurable brain cancer, and then while recovering from surgery made the weighty decision to try to pull off the Man Machine Poem tour, which turned into a summerlong love-in of Canada’s most beloved band.
Cineplex may have plenty of hand sanitizer on hand, but how about tissues? Not to spoil Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier’s excellently-made doc for anyone who wants a good cry again, but some of the tidbits I didn’t know included the Bee Gees being Downie’s secret music shame, the neckpieces he wore were actually socks stitched together, as well as how BFFL Paul Langlois assembled all the setlists at the singer’s request to make sure the Hip played “all the records”. 72 songs in total were performed over the 15 shows. Some hadn’t even been practiced in years, not that Downie could “remember a damn thing” at his first post-operation rehearsal, looking like Rip Van Winkle having just woken up with his woolly beard and soon-to-be famous JAWS T-shirt.
Long Time Running‘s real strength is in how acts as a must-see complement for an event that was still fresh in the minds of 12 million people from the year previous. Rock 95 listeners apparently have long memories too – 16 of the 20 Hip songs that made the 2020 Top 500 Countdown were played at the Kingston finale four years earlier. Never-see-them-again footage is balanced with candid interviews from band members (who are “each other’s family”), medical professionals and random enthusiasts alike. Kevin Drew and Craig Northey from Broken Social Scene and Odds respectively make special appearances, as does deep-voiced sports journalist Stephen Brunt and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling the Hip a “cultural force”. No need to call the ethics commissioner for that comment!
All I want to really add if you haven’t seen the movie yet is how there’s a smile and wink Downie gives about a third of the way in that is all I’ll ever need from him again. Near the end he conveys to the camera he told Bobby Orr how grateful he was for him and that he loved him; I know I speak for a great deal of Canadians when I say we love you too Gord.
If only to cheer for Gord Downie one more time on a larger than life screen, I say mask up and make plans to go see The Tragically Hip: The Ultimate Double Feature.