The Tragically Hip, one of Canada’s iconic rock bands, first got together in 1984 in Kingston, Ont.
Since that time they recorded 14 studio albums, two live albums, 1 EP, and 54 singles. The world was shocked when it was announced lead singer Gord Downie had incurable brain cancer. He died on Oct. 17, 2017 at age 53.
The group has fans all over the world, including many in Labrador West, and two of them happen to be local well-known established musicians, Matt Soper and Shaun Mercer. Both know each other and have played with various bands, but never together.
“Shaun and I talked about the possibility of doing a show together," Soper told the Aurora. “We talked about doing a tribute to the Tragically Hip, since we are both fans, and it was only months after Downie passed away."
For Mercer, pinning down how the show would go together was the subject of much discussion.
“We really didn’t want this to be a bar gig," Mercer said. “We spoke about this for a long time, would we include a lot of different people? And we thought of the logistics of getting a lot of people together for rehearsals and other issues.”
They decided the show will feature two bands, Detour and the Silver Poets. Detour is Mercer, Ryan Norman, Andrew Roberts, and Hunter Wilson. The Silver Poets are Soper, Dave Harris, Mike Taylor Clive Hamilton and Chris Mills.
It was decided the venue would be the Labrador West Arts and Culture centre.
“It’s a privilege to play there,” both musicians agreed. “There is great seating, great sound and lighting equipment, and the show can include a theatrical element as well.”
The show will include more than 20 songs, which will be a tribute to the Hip’s versatility and raw talent.
The two bands will be on stage at the same time, with screen behind both. They said there is a strong visual presentation that includes slides, videos, album covers, and more.
The show finale will have both groups performing simultaneously. For both musicians, choosing the songs for the shows was no easy task.
“We set out to choose our sets and when we got together there wasn’t a lot of duplicity which was great,” Soper said.
Choosing the set lists was no easy task with so many great songs, said both.
“Gord Downie did his thing and the rest of the band followed,” Mercer said.
Both musicians have seen the Hip live in concert and say their shows were powerful. They aim to do a polished performance of the Hips’ material in a great atmosphere.
When asked if they had a favourite Hip song, that seemed to be a tough question for both.
“Road Apples was my favourite Album, and Little bones is my favourite to perform, but saying one particular favourite over all, that’s impossible,” Soper said.
“It’s impossible for me to choose one from so many great songs,” Mercer said.
And many fans agree. Chances are though you’ll hear a lot of your favorites at the “No Dress Rehearsal” tribute show.
Shows are June 19 and 20 at the Labrador West Arts and Culture centre. Tickets are available online at the Arts and Culture centre or at the box office.
Soper and Mercer say there’s already a lot of interest in the shows, and if there is enough demand, they will attempt to add additional shows.