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Tears flow as terminally ill frontman of Tragically Hip plays his last gig

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A delirious sold-out crowd attended the final gig by Canadian rock band The Tragically Hip, whose lead singer and songwriter Gord Downie has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

Thank you, thank you, thank you music lovers!#ManMachinePoemTour #HipInKingston #cbcthehip pic.twitter.com/eDpEhDm8ld

— The Tragically Hip (@thehipdotcom) August 21, 2016

Frontman Gord led the show enthusiastically despite his diagnosis with gliboblastoma, the most aggressive type of cancerous brain tumour, in December.

The concert on Saturday marked the end of a 15-show tour for the band, entitled Man Machine Poem. They played an awesome 30-song set loaded with hits, and finished with three encores.

We will talk about this show in hushed tones for years to come.#TragicallyHip

— Alan Cross (@alancross) August 21, 2016

The Hip, who have become an indelible part of the country’s national identity with songs about hockey, small towns and Canadian literature, returned to the city of Kingston, Ontario, where their musical journey began in the early 1980s.

Thousands of fans — including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — watched the final show at the Rogers K-Rock Centre, which was also broadcast live on TV.

Thank you, Gord. #courage pic.twitter.com/kpLKVzfY63

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) August 21, 2016

Gord, who wore a metallic silver suit and hat with a Jaws T-shirt underneath, hugged and kissed his bandmates before they stepped on stage to open with 50 Mission Cap, followed three other songs from the album Fully Completely.

Gord gestured as if he was sketching a portrait of the teary audience as the band — rounded out by guitarists Rob Baker and Paul Langlois, bassist Gord Sinclair and drummer Johnny Fay — played the final notes of the song.

If you feel scared, and a bit confused
I got to say, this sounds a little beyond anything I'm used to #TragicallyHip pic.twitter.com/Qj6FjoXbcp

— André Picard (@picardonhealth) August 21, 2016

They then embraced, stood arm-in-arm as the crowd roared, and then walked off stage for good.

Before performing the song Fiddler’s Green, Gord seemed to reference the outpouring of support from fans in the wake of his diagnosis.

“Thank you, people, for keeping me pushing and keeping me pushing,” he said, which prompted a “Gordie!” chant from the audience.

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