With the entire country focused on the final Tragically Hip concert on Saturday, Aug. 20, it couldn’t have been easy for a live performer to host in a similar time slot.
But Alan Doyle was up for the challenge. Upon stepping on the Sun Peaks stage, he gave a tribute to The Hip and said it was “an important night for music, an important night for Canada,” and invited the audience—whom he referred to as his “brothers and sisters” to embrace the here and now, sing, dance and live in the moment. And then proceed to do just that.
Doyle, known as frontman of Canadian folk-rock group Great Big Sea, alongside members of his current band, The Beautiful Gypsies, mixed his most popular hits with uplifting, occasionally heart breaking songs; making music that made your body feel as though it had no choice but to rise up, stomp feet and clap hands. Laying Down to Perish was especially haunting and emotionally evoking. Doyle cracked a joke about the song’s bittersweet tone and then swung to the opposite end of the spectrum with a more upbeat number.
Doyle, a natural storyteller, punctuated his songs with anecdotes and remarks about the origins and meanings of the lyrics. The audience was in stitches as he took long sips from his red solo cup, setting dramatic pauses within the story of himself and a bandmate, jetlagged and wide awake due to their East Coast internal clocks and seeing a bear cub during an early morning walk in the mountains.
“For a musician nothing that exciting happens that early in the morning.”