The Tragically Hip are icons of Canadian rock, but in 1988 they arrived to the U of M campus as an up-and-coming band who had been unceremoniously fired from their scheduled gig at a downtown Winnipeg club.
Turns out a last-minute gig at the U of M was a good thing. Gord Downie, the Hip’s dynamic front-man, told the local press: “I’m much more comfortable with [playing] the university because we’ll definitely be touching the people that are interested.”
It must have been a positive experience because the Hip returned to the U of M that fall, playing a nooner in what was then called Campo (now the Fireplace Lounge) in University Centre on Friday, Sept. 30, followed by a social in Taché Hall on Saturday.
The Manitoban reported that in Taché Hall the Hip: “…literally created a solid wall of dancing bodies the entire night. Their contemporary blend of 60s style rock sizzled the crowd as they immediately submitted to non-stop bopping.”
The band’s setlist included many now-classic hits, some of which are second only to the national anthem in summoning Canadian pride.
As a nation, we were brought together in August to watch “Canada’s band” perform what may be their last performance, reminded of how their music has helped shape our lives, including here where the Great Plains begin.