It was a sold-out show and it was Gowan to be a good one.
After Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax” blasting through the speakers agitated everybody’s nerves, the lights went down, and as the stage lights lit up the venue, the band was in place as frontman, Lawrence Gowan, stood on his piano seat as he coloured the crowd with “Cosmetics.” With only two young ladies dancing while the rest of those on the floor sat in their seats, modestly swaying back and forth, it didn’t make for the most energetic welcoming from the crowd. However, while they weren’t the wildest audience members, their appreciation and support for the band was evident through their strong cheers and standing ovations.
From a full leather outfit to two different types of Scottish kilted uniforms, and from banging dance moves to jumping off his piano stage, Lawrence Gowan’s showmanship was fiery. Not only was his stage presence banging, and his vocals absolutely mesmerizing, but his engagement with the audience members was incredibly endearing and genuine. Alternating his speeches between English and French, which was at times better than mine, he accommodated his loving fans famously.
With such tracks as “One Brief Shining Moment,” “When There’s Time (For Love),” an amalgamation of “Moonchild’s Psychedelic Holiday,”and The Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows,” followed by the big banger “A Criminal Mind,” making up the first set before a roughly twenty-minute intermission where we were serenaded by an impressive piano quartet performing “A Criminal Mind,” the first set definitely set the bar high.
Back on for round two, where we would again get knocked out by the band’s solid wall of sound, the boys welcomed us back with “Desperate.” As the Scottish-Canadian brothers Lawrence and, bass player, Terry Gowan provided killer instrumentation and beauty vocals, Ryan Bovaird continued kicking ass on keys, Modern Drummer award-winner and Lawrence Gowan’s bandmate in Styx, Todd Sucherman, beat the hell out of his drum kit, and the dressed-to-kill, Bob McAlpine shredded up his guitar. There were no weak links, no shortcomings in sound quality, and sure as heck no lacking in entertainment. Even Lawrence Gowan’s witty jokes were almost as good as the musical and visual performance.
Further demonstrating his badass piano skills, Lawrence Gowan played for us one of his apparent favourite songs “Dedication” before diving into Styx’s “Khedive,” and then, as if he hadn’t already been displaying his award-winning drum skills already, Sucherman fired out a gut-busting drum solo that just kept Gowan and Gowan.
Although they shamefully didn’t break out into wicked dance moves during a favourite of mine, “Dancing on My Own Ground,” the crowd did, thankfully, get up during “Guerilla Soldier” and show some liveliness that the band very much deserved to see.
Ending the second set with “(You’re A) Strange Animal”, and then closing the night with “Moonlight Desires,” it was a spectacular performance and very moving experience that I feel very fortunate to have seen and had.
Written by Keenan Kerr
Photography by Mihaela Petrescu
*edited by Mike Milito