120697 Gowan, Ottawa, ON

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Did you know that Larry (née Lawrence) Gowan has rabid fans?  You know, the Criminal Mind and Strange Animal guy.  It turns out that some people follow this guy’s career like he’s Prince or Bruce Springsteen or something, despite the fact that to most of the world he’s a slim memory from unfortunate ’80’s big-hair popdom if he’s remembered at all*.

Though I had seen Gowan back when he was first breaking in the mid-80’s, December 6th, 1997 was my first time seeing this fanaticism in person, as wide-eyed Gowanheads excitedly ate up the front row of folding chairs set up in the nondescript performance space in the basement of Ottawa’s National Library Archives building.  I had recently served as music director for a musical (Chess) at Carleton University and one of the leads was the first of these Gowan freaks I had ever encountered.  The guy would go on and on about Larry’s greatness anytime he could catch my ear and there he was, front and centre and on the edge of his seat before a note was played.

And you know what?  That Gowan guy was actually pretty amazing.  Aside from his pair of stellar hits and a handful of other notable tracks that are often forgotten by we non-enthusiasts Gowan put on a veritable clinic on his big, spinning electric piano.  He bragged about wowing his professors during his music-studying university days and followed up the stories with stunning displays of classical keyboard brilliance.  

It turns out he’s the real deal, and it was a thoroughly engaging show.  I’m not going to rush out on Gowan tour or anything but I’ll see another solo Gowan show if he comes back to my local community centre or school gymnasium sometime.

Though I suspect being the lead singer of Styx keeps him pretty busy and well-fed so I’m not holding my breath.  Though it’s interesting to realize that some people are.

*That said, both Strange Animal and (especially) Criminal Mind are actually pretty great pop songs, and neither draws upon the cliché boy/girl trap-crap, so there’s that.

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