TORONTO — Fans of the Tragically Hip across the country will be able to watch or listen to the band’s final concert on its upcoming tour, in what the CBC describes as a “national celebration” of the iconic Canadian group.
The public broadcaster will carry the Hip’s hometown show in Kingston, Ont., live on its television, radio and online platforms on Aug. 20 starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.
CBC announced the plan as the band released its 14th studio album, “Man Machine Poem,” on Friday.
“The Tragically Hip is a band that has had a lasting influence and impact on this country and they are beloved,” said Jennifer Dettman, CBC’s executive director of unscripted content.
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“We want to make sure that all Canadians had access to this concert on whatever platform they should desire. We’re really putting on what we call a national celebration for this band.”
The tour is expected to be the final one for the band, following the recent shocking revelation that lead singer Gord Downie is battling incurable brain cancer.
Internal discussions about the possibility of carrying the Kingston concert began after the tour was first announced, Dettman said, but conversations started in earnest with the Hip’s team after seeing tens of thousands of signatures for a petition asking for a broadcast of the show.
Dettman said the CBC also hopes to have more special coverage of the band in the lead-up to the concert.
“I think it really will be a very big cultural moment for us,” she said.
“The band has had such an incredible impact and influence on Canada. They sing about our country and they tell our stories and they make great music…. I think we really want this concert to be this wonderful, national celebration where we pull the country together, and we really just all enjoy, watch, listen to the Tragically Hip.”
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On Friday morning, a handful of people lined up outside HMV’s flagship store in downtown Toronto to be among the first to purchase the Hip’s new album.
Longtime fan James Cashman said he made an hour-long trip from the city’s east-end suburbs to get the disc.
“It’s going to be their last one and the poor guy is sick, you know. It’s really sad,” said Cashman, a 64-year-old retired funeral assistant.
Cashman said he was glad to hear the band’s Kingston show would be broadcast on television, noting he couldn’t afford concert tickets.
“The tickets were gone so quickly, this resale thing, it’s not good. They should just put out two tickets per person, you know. Then everybody has a chance.”
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Demand for concert tickets was overwhelming, with all 15 shows across Canada selling out almost instantly. Ticketmaster told The Canadian Press that roughly 1.3 million fans tried to buy tickets during the public sale but only several hundred thousand seats were available.
Earlier this week, a new batch of tickets went on sale after the band tweaked its stage design to accommodate more fans, but those seats also sold out immediately.
Fans have been fuming about the exorbitant mark-ups on tickets being sold on secondary websites like StubHub and classified sites like Craigslist and Kijiji.
Members of the Hip also seemed to be displeased with how ticket sales went.
Guitarist Rob Baker responded to a fan on Twitter, saying that they were “sad and concerned” about the sellout.
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“We make every effort to make sure it is fair – much beyond our control,” he tweeted. “We want fans rather than the connected.”
CBC said the concert in Kingston will be carried on CBC Television, CBC Radio One, CBC Radio 2, its YouTube channels, and cbcmusic.ca.
The tour will launch July 22 in Victoria.
With files from Canadian Press reporter Cassandra Szklarski