060185 Gowan, Toronto, ON

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Yes, this is a concert ticket stub.

On June 1st, 1985 I took the Go bus from Newmarket into the Big City.  Switched over to the subway at Finch Station and after one more TTC transfer I was at Ontario Place.  I couldn’t afford a full day’s admission so I waited until early evening when the price dropped down to $1.  I entered the gate with little time to waste before the show but I couldn’t resist reliving a few snippets of my childhood.  

I detoured through the playground on my way to the Forum and I remember being amazed at how small the kids play area was.  When I used to come to Ontario Place in the ’70’s the hanging punching bags, the water park complete with pedal-powered water cannons and the maze-like playground seemed to go on forever.  For a six-year old it was a paradise of abandonless running and screaming, now it seemed like a small corner in an otherwise uninteresting park.

But as a seventeen-year old new concert enthusiast I was compelled to rush off to the show after just the briefest of runs through the punching bags.  I had shelled out my buck and was excited for what was to be my ninth concert ever, a new guy named Gowan.

The Strange Animal album has just exploded – the title track and the epic Criminal Mind were on the radio constantly and the videos seemed to be on a steady loop on MuchMusic (remember MuchMusic?).  I’m sure the Ontario Place show was booked before the album took off; Gowan could has easily been playing Maple Leaf Gardens at this point.

It’s no surprise the place was packed.  I’m not sure if the Ontario Place Forum is still there or not, but it was theatre-in-the-round, with a rotating stage under a vaulted canvas ceiling.  My high school concert band played there once.  You couldn’t actually feel the stage moving but I remember looking up after each piece and seeing a different view behind the conductor.

The show was really good, if a bit short.  The guy only had one album to draw on after all.  Both Criminal Mind and Strange Animal brought the house down.  I know now that Tony Levin and Jerry Marotta from Peter Gabriel’s band played on the album.  I wouldn’t be surprised if they were onstage at this show, though none of those names would have meant anything to me at the time.

Again, with only one album and two hits behind him, when Gowan came out for his encore he grabbed the mic and posed the question, “What do you do when you’ve done everything already?  You repeat yourself!” and the band launched once more into Strange Animal, repeating the hit note-for-note for the second time of the evening. Which was pretty lame and pretty fun at the exact same time.

Dollar-for-dollar I’m not sure if it was the best money I’ve spent on a concert but for a young, excited music fan it was a pretty good deal.  The subway and bus back to Newmarket that night would cost almost four times price of the show. 

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