What band could bring your country to a standstill?

For Canadians, it’s the Tragically Hip.

On Saturday, Canada was effectively closed as its citizens huddled around their TVs, celebrating the band and the extraordinary force that is Gord Downie.

In Canada, Downie is nothing short of the unofficial poet laureate. And he is dying.

Downie, the lead singer of the Tragically Hip, stunned the nation in May when he announced that he had been diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. The band responded with a 15-date tour that wrapped up Saturday night in its hometown of Kingston, Ontario. The band never quite caught on in the United States, but in Canada, it was R.E.M., Pearl Jam and the Rolling Stones wrapped into one.

This was the most poignant of goodbye tours – Canada’s chance to say farewell.

Saturday’s concert, which lasted nearly three hours, was an emotional tour de force. Downie, 52, wore shimmering suits and feathered hats. He looked at his imaginary watch, as if to acknowledge that there isn’t much time left. He tenderly kissed his bandmates and told the crowd to “have a nice life.”

Fans choked up when he referenced mortality or uncertainty in his songs – “no dress rehearsal, this is our life” or “Wheat kings and pretty things / Let’s just see what the morning brings.”

Downie began sobbing at the end of one song. Then he gathered himself together just as quickly by returning to the stage for a surprise third encore and knocking out more fan-favorite songs.

But while arguably the band’s most emotional performance, the concert didn’t feel like a wake. Downie belted out hit after hit, he blew kisses into the crowd, he pranced, he preened.