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HOWARD JONES @ THE RUTH B. SHANNON CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS, WHITTIER, CA (02.04.18)

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“In a time where many bands from his generation are starting to fall short of expectations during their live performances, Howard Jones seems to be getting better with age.  If you get a chance to Howard Jones on tour in support of his “Solo – The Songs and The Stories Tour”, do so – you will not be disappointed!”

 

The early eighties were a magical time for music.  The New Wave revolution was just beginning to take off, and bands like Depeche Mode, Pets Shop Boys, and New Order were just beginning to make a name for themselves here in the states.  Whether you were in the UK or here in the US, electronic music was making a name for itself and many of these artists (and many others for that matter) were rocketing up the charts in record fashion.  It was evident that a musical shift was taking place - from blues and rock to a new sound that incorporated the best aspects of punk, disco, ska, electronic, and mod.  In the wink of an eye, the New Wave movement was born and began to flourish around the world with the help of an upstart satellite television channel called MTV

Fast forward a few years, and a little-known English musician by the name of Howard Jones arrived on scene.  His humble beginnings in 1983 quickly morphed into a very distinct style of music that blended his amazing talent as a pianist / keyboardist with genius storytelling.  35 years later, his amazing music has touched the lives of millions of fans all over the world. On Sunday, February 4th, Howard Jones took the stage at the Ruth B. Shannon Center for the Performing Arts in Whittier, CA for an intimate night of music and conversation that captivated a near-capacity crowd from start to finish.

Opening the show for Howard Jones was New York singer / songwriter Rachael Sage.  Her 6-song set-list was jam packed with some amazing songs such as “Spark”, “I’ve Been Waiting”, and my favorite of the evening “Haunted by Objects”.  Rachael’s ability to connect with the crowd was noticeable, as many in the front rows were smiling intently and singing along to songs that were fresh, catchy, and energizing. In addition, Rachael’s voice was simply breathtaking and echoed joyfully throughout the Shannon Center.  It was perfect place to showcase her amazing talent. 

After a brief intermission, lights at the Shannon center dimmed as Howard Jones took the stage in support of his “Solo – The Songs and The Stories Tour”.  Armed only with his trusted Roland Piano, he opened the show with “You Know I Love You, Don’t You?”, opening track off his 1986 release, One to One.  This song has a nice up-tempo beat and was a wonderful way to start Sunday’s show.  Next up was “Specialty”, a B-side off the 1986 Dream into Action album.  I have never heard Howard play this track live and hearing it ‘unplugged’ was a real treat. He had no trouble bringing this track to life with his amazing vocal range and brilliant piano skills.  

Over the next hour and a half, fans were treated to an incredible set list that again encompassed Howard’s entire catalog.  From fan favorites such as “New Song” and “Everlasting Love” to more obscure classics like “Soon You’ll Go”, there was something for every HOJO fan.   One of my favorite moments Sunday evening was an incredible cover of the Beach Boys classic, “God Only Knows”.  Howard absolutely nailed this truly iconic song paying homage to one of his major influences, Brian Wilson. 

The 12-song set came to an end with two Howard Jones classics, “No One is to Blame”, and encore “Things Can Only Get Better”.   Although these songs are some of his most famous, they are staples of an amazing time in musical history that seem to transcend time and space.  Great songs to end what many considered one of his best performances of the tour so far.

As a lifetime Howard Jones fan, I could not have been more pleased with his performance on Sunday evening.  His voice was crisp, his piano playing was on point, and his wit was as sharp as ever.  What impressed me the most was adding the storytelling element to his performance.   To me, this took it to a whole new level and allowed fans a unique and intimate perspective into each song Howard played on Sunday evening.  

Overall, I think this was one of my all-time favorites HOJO shows (and I’ve seen him perform live well over 20 times since the 80’s).  No one, and I mean no one, in that venue walked away disappointed from this performance.  In a time where many bands from his generation are starting to fall short of expectations during their live performances, Howard Jones seems to be getting better with age.  If you get a chance to Howard Jones on tour in support of his “Solo – The Songs and The Stories Tour”, do so – you will not be disappointed!   Until next time…

Stay Frosty and Rock On!

 

For more information on Howard Jones current tour (and to buy tickets), click HERE

 

Setlist

You Know I Love You, Don't You?

Specialty

The Prisoner

Hide and Seek

Stay with Me

New Song

God Only Knows (Beach Boys cover)

Everlasting Love / Twist and Shout

Soon You'll Go

Life in One Day

No One Is to Blame

 

Encore

Things Can Only Get Better

 

 

Matthew Belter

Website: iceboxphoto.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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