Fans of 80’s synth-pop trailblazer, Howard Jones, arrived early at Blue Note Hawaii on the second floor of the Outrigger Waikiki Hotel on Oahu for two unforgettable evenings of stripped-down classics to celebrate a career spanning well over three decades of electronic music sorcery.
Joined by the Chapman Stick wielding, Nick Beggs of Kajagoogoo fame as well as guitar virtuoso, Robin Boult, Howard Jones jumped behind the grand piano thrilling the audience with his charismatic demeanor, and of course, that trademark hair.
The one thing I love most about witnessing musical legends perform on the Blue Note Hawaii stage is that no matter how many accolades or hit albums an artist has achieved, it’s very humanizing. There’s no hiding behind lights, choreography and stage effects. Mere feet away from the audience, the performer bares all on that stage and the best stories come out of it.
In the spaces between the songs, Jones shared story after story from his historic career. Before his heartfelt performance of “Hide & Seek,” we were invited to walk with him as he boarded the helicopter with Queen before his landmark, nerve-racking performance at Live Aid before playing piano in front of 72,000 people in 1985. And again, recalling his own mind-blowing fanboy moment when he discovered David Bowie knew his name.
Of course, there was no skipping crowd favorites, “What is Love?” and “Like to Get to Know You,” lest the audience break into what would be the most well-dressed riot in the history of music. With an appreciation and huge smile by Jones, both songs had the entire audience struggling to stay in their seats while their own voices in unison, drowned out his own.
His set wasn’t without its comical moments including a rendition of The Beatles’ “Oh Darling” and even sneaking in “Twist N’ Shout” towards the end of “Everlasting Love.” Jones even broke into a priceless spoken word reading of “Life in One Day,” reading the lyrics, sans-music, complete with his own commentary poking fun at his own words. “Try and enjoy the here and now” “Ok, that part’s true...” “The future will take care of itself somehow” *laughs* “Nope, not even close.”
With the show nearing its end, the entire audience stood on their feet screaming, “Hana Hou!” (meaning “One more!” or “Encore!” in Hawaiian), and Howard Jones and Co. took it back to where it all started with “New Song, reminding us all in Hawaii to throw off our mental chains, say goodbye to our long standing fears and to be thankful for the beautiful place we call home.