Windsor Star: Former Windsorite engineers sound for historic Tragically Hip concerts

[Windsor Star – Dalson Chen] For many Canadians, there’s a deeply bittersweet quality about The Tragically Hip’s tour this summer — and Windsor native Lee Moro has ample reason to feel that way.

A veteran production manager and audio engineer, Moro has been handling sound duties for The Hip on the historic closing dates of their Man Machine Poem concert series.

With frontman Gord Downie revealing earlier this year that he has terminal brain cancer, most have assumed these are the final performances of The Tragically Hip as Canadians have known them for more than three decades — a farewell gift from Gord.

“The word ‘last’ is not to be talked about,” Moro said. “Whatever the future holds is what the future holds.”

But there’s no denying the emotion involved. Moro was on the boards for the band during their recent performances in Toronto, Hamilton, and Ottawa.

He’ll also be responsible for the tour finale in the band’s old hometown of Kingston on Saturday, which will be broadcast live nationwide.

“I’m just amazed by the warmth from the entire country. It’s incredible,” Moro said. “It’s breathtaking, to be honest. Unlike anything I’ve seen before.”

“The people (at these concerts), they grew up with The Hip. The Hip is a part of them. The Hip is a part of their life, their history, their story of Canada … The shows in Toronto, I could barely get the system over the singing of the crowd.”

But even the fact that Moro is doing the job has a tinge of sadness to it: The Hip’s regular audio engineer couldn’t go on tour because he also received a cancer diagnosis this year and required immediate treatment.

“He’s a dear friend of mine,” Moro said. “He’s doing all right, but he’s got a battle ahead of him. There was a need for somebody to get out there and mix.”

Moro’s history with concert production dates back to the 1990s, when he started working sound for such Canadian rock acts as The Tea Party and Alannah Myles.

Years of hitting the road with touring shows followed, including seven with New York singer-songwriter Norah Jones. In 2008, Moro moved to Nashville with the intent of settling down.

These days, he’s working for Solotech — a longtime sound, lighting, video, LED, and rigging company.

The Hip is one of Solotech’s clients. With Moro’s background and experience, it was a natural fit for him to man the dials for some of the band’s Ontario dates this summer.

“I don’t really want to spend my life on a bus anymore,” said Moro, 44. “But it’s good to get these kind of opportunities to jump in the seat for a week or so. It’s an honour.”

Regarding the finale in Kingston, Moro’s trying to stay pragmatic about it and concentrate on the logistics. “It’s another show. We’re just going to go at it and get it done right. Put our hearts into it and get it done.”

Want to watch The Tragically Hip’s Kingston concert on Saturday night? CBC is broadcasting the performance live at 8:30 p.m., and many Windsor bars and venues will be showing it on their television screens.

Among them: The Windsor Beer Exchange (493 University Ave. W.), The Walkerville Tavern (1850 Wyandotte St. E.), and both locations of John Max Sports & Wings (3208 Dougall Ave. and 2601 Lauzon Parkway).

Downtown Windsor’s medical marijuana lounge Higher Limits (251 Ouellette Ave.) will also be showing the concert, as well as playing The Hip’s music all day. $5 cover, with a portion of proceeds going to the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research. 18 and older only.


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