An iconic Canadian rock group whose lead singer has terminal brain cancer took the stage one final time Saturday for an emotional farewell.
Gord Downie, who received his diagnosis last year, and The Tragically Hip rocked out for nearly three hours in front of a sold-out crowd in Kingston, Ontario.
Those at the concert, which was broadcast live across Canada, experienced a whirlwind of feelings, with Downie, 52, breaking down in tears as he crooned his hit “Grace, Too” before departing the stage, according to the Washington Post.
Moments later, he triumphantly retuned for a surprise third set in front of the fervent fans at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.
The Tragically Hip, which never achieved widespread fame in America, remains one of Canada’s most beloved bands after churning out hits for decades.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was on-hand at Saturday’s goodbye performance, said Downie and his group has been “writing Canada’s soundtrack for more than 30 years.”
The band shocked the music world in May when it revealed Downie had been diagnosed with the disease last December.
Thousands of fans accross Canada congretated at watch parties for the televised concert.
In the same announcement, they released their intentions to host one final tour for the summer.
“This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us,” the post on their website read.
That 15-show tour came to an end on Saturday, with fans across Canada hosting parties and attending public viewings to watch the broadcast of the emotional concert. A number of towns played the show in front of their City Hall buildings, with more than 30,000 people reportedly congregating for the event.
Downie, long celebrated for his way with words, touchingly told the audience to “have a nice life” at his moving send-off show.
The Tragically Hip, which formed in Kingston, Ontario, has released 14 studio albums since their debut in 1984 – including one titled “Man Machine Poem” in June.
“They are a quintessentially Canadian band who mean so much to Canadians, even for those who aren’t huge fans,” Kingston’s Mayor Bryan Paterson said of the group, via the Washington Post.