Howard Jones at Shepherd’s Bush Empire
It’s been 30 years since 1980s pop icon Howard Jones first hit the top of the charts with his debut single New Song. The crowd that gathered to witness this anniversary show ranged from die-hard fans that had grown up with his upbeat, friendly synth-pop music, to younger lovers of his famous tracks from the age of New Romanticism, Live Aid and Thatcher.
The main theme of the night was nostalgia, with a concert that was split up into three acts. In the first act, Howard Jones entered the stage and with an air of intimate informality, introduced the evening’s retrospective tour of his career. He began the celebration with an acoustic session in which his electronic piano was accompanied by guitar and percussion, featuring a cavalcade of less well-known songs such as the melodious Tomorrow is Now, Straight Ahead – dedicated to his late father – the breezy Back In Your Life, the melancholy City Song, and the crowd-pleasing No One is to Blame.
The second act was for the most part characterised by bright and noisy trance-style animated segments, with designs and colours that recalled 1980s postmodern pop-culture graphics. The animations were projected onto a large, semi-transparent curtain beyond which the figure of Howard Jones (dressed in a shiny, fluorescent yellow suit that channelled Bowie) could be seen playing a series of new dance tracks.
By the time Howard reappeared on stage for the final act, audience anticipation was on a high. He began a round-up of his biggest hits, performed using more or less the same synthesiser sounds and audio effects as featured in the originals; at once the audience felt transported back in time to the days of New Song, What is Love and Things Can Only Get Better.
Howard Jones, although not one of the defining artists of his generation, was nevertheless one of its major players, and his songs continue to be enjoyed to this day. The calibre of the performance and the tracks themselves bear witness to his great talent as a performer and songwriter, one who has forever left his mark on the British New Wave music scene.
Photos: Krish Nagari
For further information and future events visit Howard Jones’s website here.
Watch the video for What is Love here: