Gowan – One Kilt One Name
Submitted by Sandy Graham
Photo: Paul de Burger
Going to a Gowan solo concert is definitely one for the bucket list. On Sunday October 13, 2013 the ‘Strange Animal’ with a ‘Criminal Mind’ came back to his hometown to play a solo concert at a sold out venue. All proceeds were donated to a good cause, McDermott House, a charitable organization started by longtime friend and fellow entertainer, John McDermott. Held at the prestigious Glenn Gould Studio, located in the CBC, In Kilt Tonight was truly a night to remember.
The show was a one man band, other than the fact he honoured his Glaswegian heritage by having a group of Highland dancers run through the aisles to Scotland the Brave, decked out in kilts and leather jackets. Meghan Bold, of the Bold Step Dancers said, “That is what happens when celtic dancers team up with a legendary rocker who happens to originally be from Scotland. We were honoured to dance for such a talented Canadian icon, and all for a good cause McDermott House. It goes down as our coolest show ever.”
With the dancers proudly showing their tartan, Gowan hit the stage in full highland dress complete in kilt with a plaid brooch, socks and flashes, throwing his plaid over his shoulder and taking his traditional spot ON the piano.
Taking his faithful fans through a slide show of his personal and musical life, the Toronto native moved from piano to guitar (including a one foot bass drum accompaniment) to all his hits like (You’re A) Strange Animal, When There’s Time For Love, Keep Up the Fight, Moonlight Desires, Cosmetics, Cry On My Shoulder, Dancing On My Own Ground. Talking about his days at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Gowan says he picks one classical piece a year to work on and this year was Clair De Lune by Claude Debussy. Going to other end of the spectrum, he picked it up on the keys by doing a rousing King Chanticleer Rag. The audience was also privy to a new song that is yet to be announced at press time.
Gowan’s quote here: “I had a great time and it seemed like everyone else did too. Strong memories of Toronto gigs from the past - The Gasworks, Massey Hall, Maple Leaf Gardens, The Forum at Ontario Place and others, drifted into mind just before hitting the stage and while I was playing I felt very happy to be home. "I'm just glad the kilt stayed on. Had it not, we might have corrupted the lyrics to Moonlight Desires… ”
He closed with his signature song ‘A Criminal Mind’ then surprisingly did ‘Somebody to Love’ Freddy Mercury’s signature tune in his days with Queen.
All this combined with a relaxed stage performance, he told jokes, ran people thru the history of his career, talked of his time recording in England and showed his humour by throwing in a verse of Monty Python’s ‘Always Look On The Bright Side of Life’.
Gowan has the unique power of appealing to both the male and female fans who were all out in equal numbers. The women love him, the men would like to be like him. Elvis Presley had that same appeal.
Lawrence Gowan spends most of the year on the road performing with Styx. When he returns to Toronto he is busy working on new product, which will be released sometime in the New Year. It has been over 16 years since Gowan appeared in his hometown but he put on a solo show as easily as putting on a pair of good fitting gloves. The show ended with fans echoing ‘We love you Larry’! We can see why.
Editor’s Note: Gowan is making available a limited release recording of the concert in exchange for a donation to McDermott House Canada. Available for purchase at http://mcdermotthousecanada.org/gowan-in-kilt-tonight/