So last night I went to see Howard Jones. He was very local to me in a small venue and my husband likes him so we decided to go. The Stables venue is a lovely intimate venue with friendly staff and it almost felt like the performers are in your living room.
The support act was Elise Yuill. No I know you haven’t heard of her but you should. She is a rare talent on the guitar and has written some beautiful folk-style songs. She is currently crowd-funding for her debut album and Howard Jones has helped produce some of the tracks. So she is worth a listen.
I have seen Howard Jones perform before, many years ago as part of an 80’s festival. But today was different. There were no other distractions of other bands. There was no band. It was just Howard and a keyboard with a stripped back set.
What really impressed me was ….hold on, there is a list. Let me tell you I was impressed. 1. He can really play that keyboard. He played it as a piano and he can play Jazz, Classical, his own songs and covers of others. He can really play! 2. His song-writing ability. When all the electronics are there I don’t think we appreciate the words enough. Listening to his lyrics just showed me how good his song writing skills are. 3. He is funny. In-between the songs he talked to us as if we were his friend. It felt like he was telling us a secret no one else knew. 4. He is friendly. He has time after the show to meet fans and stop for photos. He didn’t ever seem rushed or fed up. He was so polite and left the audience feeling very special.
Of course you expect to hear the big numbers such as New Song, Like to get to know you well, Pearl in the Shell, Things can only get better and What is love? But to also hear some rare gems and the stories behind them made this show really special.
For example, before he played Hide & Seek he told us about his Live Aid experience. He had to qualify to appear on live aid and the criteria was ‘have you sold 1 million albums in the last 6 months’? Luckily Howard did qualify and was given a slot for two songs. He flew in with Queen and headed for the bar when he saw David Bowie. Not only did David Bowie say hello but he knew who Howard Jones was! Howard said David Bowie has been a major influence on his work and this was a very special moment. But it didn’t end there.
Howard and his backing singers were rehearsing backstage when they found themselves an audience of two. Pete Townsend from The Who and David Bowie watched them practice before they went on. How cool is that?
Howard also told us of a story where he was supposed to be doing something with his electronic colleagues such as Thomas Dolby and Stevie Wonder. Apparently Stevie Wonder never showed up so they all flew to Stevie’s house and he jammed with Stevie.
Each song Howard sung gave us a back story. It was fascinating to hear. He told us about his restaurant called ‘Nowhere’ which Madonna and Kevin Spacey would hang out. This features in City Song. He told us about how Like to get to know you well doesn’t translate well into Japanese as he was singing ‘I’d like to force myself upon you’. He played a Jazzy track giving us a scene from the wild west, called everlasting love and put in a bit of twist and shout. He did a classic cover of the Beach Boys track God only knows which of course David Bowie amongst others has covered in the past.
It was a very intimate evening with Howard Jones. I feel I got to know him very well. Would I recommend going to see Howard Jones. Absolutely!