I thought Howard Jones was kind of lame when I was a kid, but because there were only 10 videos in rotation on MTV at a time, I got to know his songs very well. When I got a little older, I realized his music was really cool and I’ve been a fan of his for years now. I bought his greatest hits CD when I was going through a New Wave phase almost 20 years ago and that’s really all I know of him. Some of his lyrics are pretty brilliant and most of his music that I am familiar with is really good. It’s funny how stuff that was once perceived as “lame” or “embarrassing” can become something you really like (Duran Duran is another good example of this for me).
I heard Howard was kind of boring in concert from a reliable source who saw his recent show at Club Nokia, but that still didn’t keep me from getting a ticket to see him at the Canyon- for better or worse, I was very willing to take the chance. Hours prior to show time, there was some talk abut him missing his plane flight to the show and that it may not happen. I later heard that everything worked out and he made it to the venue. I planned on getting there around 9 to watch the show, where it was announced he was playing his first two albums in their entirety.
I arrived a little before 9 to a packed crowd, and, apparently, he had already played around 9 songs- mostly off of his Dream Into Action album. Oh well. I had no idea what songs he was playing when I got there. A quick Google search with a few key words I picked out from the second song I heard told me it was “Hunger for the Flesh”. I scrolled through the set list from a previous show and only recognized the song “Look Mama” from the songs he had probably already played, so I wasn’t too bummed about my tardiness. Then, almost consecutively, he played most of the songs I wanted to hear. He even threw in a popular song that wasn’t normally a part of his set list- Everlasting Love. His vocals didn’t sound good at all on that. I was starting to think the show was a bad call, but then, things only got better from there. It was very hot in the venue and a few songs in, I was already feeling a little fatigued, so it was actually a welcomed relief when he announced an intermission shortly after my arrival- it sure beat a “thank you very much- good night”, which I feared might happen. I went onto the patio and took in some night air and geared up for the second half of his show.
He took the stage again about a half an hour later and played most, if not all, his Human’s Lib album. I liked a lot of the songs I wasn’t familiar with and there was a lot of neat electronic music magic going on. At one point, there was the use of these large percussion sticks that seemed somehow to be MIDI-triggered as they were banged against the stage. That was a real trip. Some of the keyboard parts reminded me of the music in the Revenge of the Nerds movie. There’s nothing quite like an 80s robotic digital synth sound. There were also a few songs I didn’t know the name of that I was familiar with, so that was a bonus.
His band is a 3-piece with electronic drummer Jonathan Atkinson and Robbie Bronnimann on keyboards/ sequencing/ sampling and all that good stuff. It looks like they’re mostly playing with toys, but they threw down some seriously cool digital music.
The large crowd here was pretty annoying. There were tons of drunk people babbling endlessly and I saw some of the worst displays of dancing ever. Also, when the crowd tried to harmonize with the singing parts, it sounded like shit. There’s nothing like seeing a a crowd of mostly intoxicated white people really let loose that couldn’t hardly sing or dance on their best day, let alone in their inebriated state. No one is to blame??? I’m not sure about that.
The high point of the second part of the show was when he played “What Is Love?” with some pretty insane-sounding keyboard parts- it almost sounded like dub-step to me. Quirky keyboard sounds are cool. For the encore, he came back out, slapped on a key-tar and played “New Song”. That was a great way to end the show. I may have been late to the show, but I still caught around 15 songs, which was plenty for me, so Friday the 13th turned out pretty OK.
If this is representative of the older, uncool crowd that I am almost old enough to be a part of, I’d much prefer going back to being the “older guy” at younger shows like death metal concerts and the such. At least the music is so loud you couldn’t possibly hear people talking over the tunes and trying to hold a friggin’ conversation during the best part of the show.
There was a massive amount of stuff for sale at the merch table:
Why Look for the Key
Is There a Difference?
Assault and Battery
Dream Into Action (I showed up around the end of this song)
Hunger for the Flesh
No One Is to Blame
Life in One Day
Like to Get to Know You Well
Things Can Only Get Better
Pearl in the Shell
Hunt the Self
Don’t Always Look at the Rain
Hide and Seek
What Is Love?
Encore: New Song