Howard Jones Magnum Theatre 4th June

Posted on Wednesday 10th June 2015 03:00 by FreckFest

Howard was on terrific form last Thursday night. He walked on to the stage in the Magnum Theatre, hair a bit greyer than before but still teased skywards, and plonked himself at his keyboard, an Apple Mac by his side, next to a hastily scribbled set list on the back of a fan’s ‘Welcome Back To Scotland!’ letter and eased himself into opening number ‘Straight Ahead’. Yes, it was just him and his Roland synth, but the gig felt for all the world as if he’d popped up in your living room to entertain you in-between decent telly programmes.

The set that followed was drawn from all eras of Howard’s career, delighting the hardcore fans who made up at least half the audience and had waited years to hear him play some of this material live. The bulk of the set though was prime Howard Jones. Some of the best-known hits of the 80s were aired, stripped of all the bangs ‘n crashes ‘n electronic sheen but played back in simple yet effective fashion.

 

What Is Love?’ made an early appearance. ‘Life In One Day’, ‘Things Can Only Get Better’, ’Everlasting Love’, ‘Joy’, ‘No-One Is To Blame’ and ‘New Song’ were all played to rapturous applause. If you’re sitting there thinking, ‘I don’t remember that one’, you wouldn’t be alone. A little murmur of recognition filtered through the audience during the first chorus of every other song – it’s amazing how many of Howard’s songs you’d know. And there was me saying rather pompously that he had only 3 songs.

 

If the songs were good, the between-song storytelling was brilliant. Self-deprecating stories of travelling to Glasgow to see the Rolling Stones at the old Apollo gave way to anecdotes about working with Rod Stewart and his angst at Rod not recording one of his songs. He spoke lots about Live Aid. Before playing ‘Hide & Seek’, the one song he played at Wembley that day in 1985, Howard bemoaned his own stupidity for not networking enough and missing out on playing on the Band Aid single. He then went on to talk about sharing the helicopter ride into Wembley with Queen and how it felt when the entire audience sang the chorus back at him.

 

Howard was keen on audience participation and at one point had everyone alternating between wolf howls and operatic baritones. “Irvine is clearly an opera town!” he remarked. The gig concluded with an encore of version of ‘Like To Get To Know You Well’, just about the only hit he had left to play. The audience left the theatre grinning from ear to ear.

Anyone who’s been to a Freckfest show will know by now that our trump card, our unique selling point, is that we encourage the artist to stay back after the show and come out to meet their fans.

 

A quick change of clothes (and, clearly, a wee bit of teasing of the quiff – popstars are born vain, and by all evidence they’ll die vain too) and Howard came out to meet the 70 or so hardcore fans who’d waited behind. He didn’t disappoint, posing for photos, signing all manner of Howard-related material, including one fan’s very rare Japanese imports, and being generally a very decent chap indeed. You can go to a show anywhere else and not get this, and it’s this touch that really makes our events stand out from all others. You really should make a point of getting along to one of our shows – you’d like it!

A special mention should be made for support act Apache Darling. In keeping with the theme of the night, they appeared as a duo, all minimal synth and crystal clear vocals. We’re hoping to have them back as soon as we can, with full band in tow. A band on the up and up, Apache Darling are definitely an act to watch out for.

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