Updated: Oct 10
by Scott Roos
pic Courtesy of Todd Gallopo and Styx
Styx, the multiplatinum classic rock act who made a name for themselves in the 70's and early 80's, known for their progressive leanings, pop inspired hooks and penchant for theatrical camp, will be heading to Saskatoon this Saturday, Oct. 15th for a stop at the Sasktel Centre.
It’s been quite a number of years since a Saskatoon audience has been able to see Styx do their thing, but they are currently partway through playing a series of dates in Western Canada. It’s a swing the band has not done in some time and one that keyboardist/singer Lawrence Gowan has clearly looked forward to.
“I hadn't been to Victoria in 25 years,” Gowan told NSMZ, “I used to play there every year, sometimes twice a year so it was really tremendous to return there.”
The slate of dates thus far has included stops in Victoria, Abbotsford and Kelowna. The band will also be hitting Calgary, Edmonton and Lethbridge, before making the stop in Saskatoon. The western Canadian leg of the tour will end in Winnipeg but not before also seeing Regina; all with support from Nancy Wilson’s Heart.
“I’m surprised just from some people (so far in Western Canada) who got quite emotional about it all. You can read it by the giant smiles on their faces,” continues Gowan of the band’s time in Canada thus far.
“There's nothing like a great rock show. It’s the greatest form of entertainment that I've ever known. And what it does for people and what it does for us is just so fantastic. You really can't overstate it quite honestly,” Gowan adds.
As for Gowan himself, he initially found success in the 80’s as a solo artist in Canada with his breakthrough sophomore album Strange Animal. In particular, his song “A Criminal Mind”, when paired with its accompanying groundbreaking music video, made him a household name on the Canadian music scene for a brief period of time.
Fast forward to 1999, with four more studio albums under his belt and a pair of live albums and his solo work in and of itself is undeniable. His legacy, at least in Canada, was cemented firmly. It was at this point that he was asked to join Styx after the departure of Dennis DeYoung. His wizardry on the keyboards (Gowan is classically trained) as well as his strong vocals seemed like a good fit for a band in need of replacing a key member.
“I think I just helped to extend the life of the band. I think I can say with some degree of confidence that I was the right piece to put into the puzzle when they were faced with a difficult situation,” Gowan says of his time with Styx. “I can only use time to attest to that and just say that somehow when some bands are faced with very tough changes they have to make in order to keep going, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. In the case of Styx, I think that the spirit of the band survived that seismic shift (of DeYoung leaving) and so I see myself as part of basically the puzzle piece that they needed at that time.”
Now, with Styx celebrating their 50th anniversary as a unit in 2022, that means that Gowan himself has been with the group 23 of those years - just under half the amount of time that the band has been in existence. The band has released four full lengths with Gowan as a full fledged member including 2017’s The Mission and 2021’s Crash of the Crown, both of which are critically acclaimed. With the pandemic slowly receding, Styx has also been able to get out on the road with newfound vigor. They are seeing a resurgence of love for their classic catalog as evidenced in the multi-generational makeup of their audience.
“You can easily state now without any argument that rock basically was the great musical statement of the last half of the 20th century. It dominated the planet and I've been seeing that for the last couple of decades now in the new millennium because the audiences that we play to, and it's been the same the last two nights in Victoria and Vancouver, these audiences that we play to, half of the audience on any given night is under 40 years of age so they weren't even born when the biggest classic rock records were made,” marvels Gowan.
On this leg of the tour the band will be playing a career spanning set that includes tracks from the many different eras of the band including songs from their recent albums. There will be hits and deep cuts and hopefully a few surprises along the way. All in all, it looks like it’s going to be a great time. Tickets are still available and can be purchased through ticketmaster.ca.