Howard Jones: Huntington, NY, July 7, 2012
July 7, 2012
For two-and-one-half hours on this warm Saturday evening at Huntington, New York's Paramount, Howard Jones successfully turned back time for an enthusiastic crowd that came to hear him perform his Dream Into Action (Elektra, 1985) and Human's Lib (Elektra, 1984) albums in their entirety. Jones' keyboards, electronic equipment and keytar were set up center stage and surrounded by various electronic video and sound devices. Jonathan Atkinson on Jones' right played electronic drums/percussion while Robbie Bronnimann, on his left, manned an electronic kiosk/board/computer as a simple screen behind the trio, showing footage from videos that pulsed to the frequencies of the music.
Jones, who freely admitted that in the past he could never re-create the albums and pull off such a showdue to the fact that the technology hadn't caught up with the artistic vision of those timeswas able, due to the current advances in synthesized technology, to perform the twenty-five songs without a hitch, thanks to the prowess of Atkinson and Bronnimann. His spot-on vocals, along with the perfectly executed electronically-produced music, allowed these upbeat, catchy and above all else, danceable tracks to sound fresh and current.
The orchestra pit at the Paramount is predominantly a standing-room-only area where, for this show, twenty rows of seats were added. These seats didn't prove to be a deterrent to either the crowdwho danced the night awayor to Jones, who frequently shook hands with diehard admirers who were able to worm their way close to the stage.
Prior to the performance it was explained to the crowd, by a member of Jones' management team, that the show would be performed in two sets. The first set would be Dream Into Action performed in its entirety. There would be a short, approximately thirty-minute break which would allow "Howard to catch his breath, have a bit of tea, rest his voice for a few minutes and change his clothes." After the break, Jones would return to the stage and perform the songs from his debut album, Human's Lib. It was also explained that though Jones' staffers had known there would be the additional seats for the performance, they had expected them to be toward the rear. Regardless of their location, the staffer stated, "Dancing in the aisles and in front of the stage is encouraged." He then made a quick sales pitch for merchandise (T-Shirts, DVDs, greatest hits collections and specially re-mastered, expanded versions of Jones' classic CDs which were available in the lobby.
The gig had a pleasant "storyteller's" vibe to it as Jones stopped at various times to explain the genesis of several tunes. He said that he went to the trouble of getting the original multi-track tapes from the recordings so the performers would be able to find all the "right" synthesizer sections for playing the songs live, and in the correct manner. While introducing "Life In One Day" he explained that his record label was "quite concerned upon first hearing the album and thought that it was somewhat lacking in singles. 'Howard we don't hear a single,' they said. So I wrote this one and we added it." He introduced "Look Mama" by stating that he wanted to dedicate it to his mother, Thelma, who for many years ran his fan club (along with his dad, John) and who "is losing her memory, but not her spirit."
Prior to entering the venue, the audience was privy to the fact that Jones would be performing both albums in their entirety (the show was billed as such). But it should be noted that there was a spur-of-the-moment element in the air. It wasn't until the stage announcement preceding the start of the concert that the crowd was advised that Dream Into Action would be played first. Many artists, when they perform their classic albums, play individual tunes in the order in which the album was assembled. In many cases these albums were originally released on CD. The CD format allows the artist to assemble the music in the running order that he/she envisions upon creation. For an artist who is performing an album that was not originally released on CD, replicating the running order of the vinyl (Side A/Side B) may not be the best artistic representation of the album, because it could be that the album was originally assembled in a way that "fit" on the record. It appears that on this evening Jones decided to perform the album in a way that fit his artistic muse. Neither Dream Into Action nor Human's Lib were performed in their released running order. Even diehard fans who knew the running order of each record had no idea what would be played next.