Lawrence Gowan of Styx "Songbook of Summer" Tour in Review - The Grand Excursion

As Styx, Foreigner and Don Felder continue to swagger their way through the United States on the 2014 “Songbook of Summer” tour, we had the privilege of chatting with keyboardist and singer/songwriter Lawrence Gowan after a sold-out performance at Freedom Hill Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights, Michigan. A part of the Styx juggernaut since 1999 replacing founding member Dennis DeYoung, Gowan has not only continued to maintain the integrity of one of the greatest rock bands of all time, but has provided an incessant theatrical presence on stage which should raise the bar for all touring performers today.

 

 

With a four-hour assault of anthem-laden hits, the Motor City crowd was in full force and armed with their own vocal ability to echo back the countless choruses of such a vast collection of music from the now united trio. Gowan jokingly comments, “We’re probably responsible for a lot of hoarse voices across the United States during this tour”. The comradery was evident as members occasionally stepped out to add some extra muscle to each other’s performances. Witnessing Tommy Shaw playing guitar and singing alongside Don Felder on “Hotel California” was nothing short of jaw-dropping.

 

 

Dates for the tour continue into the latter part of 2014. However, if for any reason fans missed out on the opportunity to see these acts together on one stage, the July 25 show at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas has been recently filmed for an upcoming AXS TV broadcast to be aired later this year. Live recordings of sets from each act will be featured on a subsequent DVD release as well. This will mark Gowan’s third time with Styx releasing professional footage to the public. In 2011, “The Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight – Live” saw the band perform these two epic albums in their entirety and in running order set to a backdrop of video montage. Previous to that was a 2006 release entitled “Styx & the Contemporary Youth Orchestra of Cleveland – One With Everything”, an evening of Styx music accompanied by 171 talented children ranging from 13 to 19 years of age.

 

 

On the importance of a live musical show Gowan states, “I’ve never encountered a greater form of entertainment than a great rock show”. Referring to his own personal experience of witnessing performances by Pink Floyd, Genesis, Queen and Elton John, he believes that there is a larger-than-life event which takes place over the course of an evening. His ability to be theatrical on stage is incredibly fulfilling, especially for a musician who himself once auditioned for the role of Tommy in the “The Who’s Tommy” theater production.

 

 

Still a fan of full-length vinyl albums, Gowan stresses the significance of records as an entity and art form and remembers the impact they had in his childhood. He mentions, “I look at the first true album statements as being “Revolver” from The Beatles, followed by “Pet Sounds” (The Beach Boys) and then again with The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper”.  In a market where it is questionable to release such a lengthy collection of music, Gowan may soon be announcing the release of a new solo record which is seemingly very near completion. On that he comments, “This album will come out but I don’t want to just put it out and not be able to tour on it and not be able to properly promote it. I want to finish it and find a good time slot where I can step away from Styx for a little bit and focus on it”.

 

 

In being an Irish-born Canadian performing currently with a legendary American band, he comments passionately when asked of his greatest musical accomplishment to date. “It’s being able to turn something I love into such a marathon that I’m still enjoying”.

 

 

To discover more about Lawrence Gowan or Styx and the “Songbook of Summer” tour click on the following links:

www.gowan.org

www.styxworld.com

 

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