Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder dedicated a song to Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip during the band’s first of two nights at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL on Saturday.
The tribute came as the Canadian band performed a farewell concert that was broadcast nationwide from their hometown of Kingston, ON as the last show of a tour following news in May that Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.
“There’s something going on up north of the border tonight, and it involves somebody that we can say is a family member,” Vedder told the crowd. “He’s part of the group of touring musicians we’ve met over the years. There’s a guy who’s got a band called Tragically Hip, and lucky for some of us, he did some recording with a guy we recorded with all the time with in Seattle.”
“And I got to spend a few days with him,” continued the singer, “and we were all informed of some sad news that he had a really tough form of brain cancer called Glioblastoma, which some of us know a lot about and it’s a tough one, if not one of the toughest forms. And he was very courageous and decided to take his group out on one last tour and tonight’s the last night of that run.
“So they’re up there going through the emotions up there. And I just want to send them our energy from our gathering up to their gathering up there and wish the best to Mr. Gord Downie. We love you.”
Pearl Jam then performed the single, “Light Years,” from 2000’s “Binaural”, a track about the death of someone close.
Downie's cancer was discovered last December after a seizure led to an emergency room visit in Kingston.
Doctors at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto were able to surgically “excise the bulk of the tumour”, following which the singer underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments earlier this year.
The band revealed news of Downie’s health issue, saying, “After 30-some years together as The Tragically Hip, thousands of shows, and hundreds of tours…we’ve decided to do another one. This feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.”
The month-long 15-date run across Canada in support of their latest album, “Man Machine Poem”, kicked off in Victoria, BC on July 22, with a portion of the proceeds to be donated to the Sunnybrook Foundation.
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