The Tragically Hip documentary Long Time Running played in a Kelowna theatre this week.

Parnell: Long live the Tragically Hip

A new documentary played in Kelowna, Long Time Running is a fitting tribute to the band’s 2016 tour

Long Time Running—and aptly named—is a documentary on the Tragically Hip’s 2016 tour, which took place incredibly, after lead singer Gord Downie had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

The film—which played at the Landmark Xtreme in West Kelowna Monday—was much more than a chronicling of the tour, it was a poignant look at the relationships forged in the band from the early days to current times.

The film featured tasty tidbits and tales of the five guys who grew up together in Kingston, two of them meeting as young as a year-and-half, playing in the sandbox together; the rest meeting in high school, forming a band and never looking back.

And it showcased just what made the Tragically Hip one of the best bands this country has ever produced. The best band; never to be duplicated. For 30 years this band of brothers worked and grew up and played together, performing uniquely Canadian music to adoring fans. From album to album, they grew, changed and evolved. But they were always the Hip.

Never were they challenged as much as when Downie was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

After brain surgery prior to the tour, Downie was left unable to remember songs and lyrics that had become a part of the Canadian landscape. Still it was Downie who pushed for the tour and later called it the best he has ever felt on stage.

Utilizing six tele-prompters, Downie and the Hip not only pulled off the cross Canada tour, they did in true Hip fashion, playing on stage grouped closely together, hugging and kissing each other before and after each show as fans showered them with love in sold out arenas across the nation.

Yes, sadness engulfed the tour, but it felt like a celebration, honouring a band that brought so much joy through music. The film captures that spirit and more in pre- and post-tour interviews.

It was early in the band’s career, viewer’s learn, when Downie called a meeting and insisted the five members would split song-writing credit equally as a band, even though it was he, the poet, who penned most of the mesmerizing lyrics.

It’s this selflessness that is at the heart of the Hip. Sure Downie was the front-man but they did everything as a band. And right to the end that was true, as the fivesome stood on stage in that final show together, arm in arm, saying goodbye.

What a legacy they left behind with music that will live on, being passed from generation to generation.

Long live the Hip. Thank-you for the music.

—Kevin Parnell