(Toronto, ON) – It was standing room only for the second of two nights when 80’s synthpop icon Howard Jones performed at Hugh’s Room as part of his two-week U.S. and Canadian tour called The Songs, The Piano and The Stories.
Playing songs and telling stories about his life and his music (which now spans over three decades) Jones came on stage just after 8 p.m. opening his show with The Prisoner.
For the next two hours Jones entertained a packed room. His music and stories captivated the audience. His voice was in excellent form and he sounded just as great as he did 30 years ago!
Jones had many stories to share throughout the night. One of which, he talked about when he left his factory job “rolling saran wrap” to pursue music.
“I said one day I’m going to be walking out of here because I need to get on with my music. That’s what I’m supposed to do. I really feel that,” Jones said before playing New Song, his first single when he bursted into the music scene in 1983 and became one of the few British artists to successfully conquer the U.S.
New Song was recently used in a pivotal scene in Breaking Bad where Jessie Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul) questions if he wants to “play by the rules”. New Song peaked at number three on the UK singles charts.
Another story Jones touched upon was about the Band Aid project in 1984 when top British and Irish musicians got together to record Do They Know It’s Christmas? to help raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia. Jones did not take part in Band Aid.
“I really, really should of been a part of that,” quipped Jones. “…I didn’t have the confidence to put myself forward…I kind of missed out on that! When I heard what I heard that Live Aid was going to come up I absolutely had to be a part of it.”
Jones said he got in touch with Bob Geldof and told us that “Geldof was very pragmatic” and wanted the biggest names in music and raise as much money as possible.
“You had to have sold a million albums in the last six months to be a part of it and luckily, you know, I had done that!”
Jones was touring America at the time and had to cancel some shows to fly back to the UK to perform his single Hide and Seek at Live Aid. He said he met many of the other musicians including Queen, David Bowie and Paul and Linda McCartney. (“I talked to Paul about vegetarian dog food.”)
When it was almost his time to go on he said he was in a “petrified state”. Phil Collins had just finished his performance, came off stage and came over to him.
“We worked together on lots of things and he said to me, ‘Howard, you’ve got to be careful with the piano. When you’re down at the bottom end there’s some really dodgy notes, they’re not working properly.’ So, as if I wasn’t the most petrified person on the planet at the time, I was thinking ‘Oh no, the piano’s not going to work!'”
Despite his nerves and a piano with “dodgy notes”, Jones said his Live Aid performance went well and that it was a very “euphoric experience”.
“I’d like to give you a bit of a Live Aid moment,” Jones said as he went into Hide and Seek.
The night was filled with other stories and great music including such hits as Things Can Only Get Better, What is Love?, Life In One Day, Everlasting Love and the finale No One Is To Blame (which went all the way to number one in the U.S.).
This show was definitely a big hit with everyone in attendance. This was my first time seeing Howard Jones and I enjoyed hearing the stories behind his hits and learning a little bit about his life.
The Songs, The Piano and The Stories tour continues until next week with remaining shows in Ottawa, Montreal, Windsor and Niagara Falls. For complete details and tour dates visit http://www.howardjones.com/tour_dates.html
Jones’ latest album, Engage, was released last year. A solo UK tour is scheduled for 2016.
Howard Jones is well worth seeing if you ever get the chance!
All photos By JOEL NAPHIN
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