Howard Jones – Live In Japan: Album Review

Howard Jones live at the NHK Hall, Tokyo in 1984 at the peak of his powers.

Release Date: available now

Label: Cherry Red Records

Format: CD/DVD, 2LP (coloured)

One of the icons of the Eighties New Romantic/electronic crossovers. Howard Jones was pretty omnipresent in the mid Eighties. He’s still doing aturn or two these days, but his legacy will likely be weighted towards his debut album Human’s Lib. Double platinum, straight in at #1, the melodic pop might have earned some (possibly valid) criticism as being lightweight, but the clutch of high-profile singles that broke into the upper echelons of the charts ensured that, like it or not, it was an album that was going to becomes a landmark of the era. It even had its own offshoot album of 12″ mixes to mark the period, along with, not that it matters but these were the days of explosive fashion statements, Howard’s famous ‘hedgehog’ hairstyle

To be fair to Howard, despite the instant success that some might lay in the hands of a Faustian pact of Zeppelinesque proportions, you can give Howard his due as he was prepared to convert the album to the live stage. And this is where we come in, along with the sort of adince adulation – ie, high pitched screams, the like sof which haven’t been heard round our way since Cheap Trick At Budokan. It’s the suddenness and the abrupt end that does it – almost like an explosion and although Dylan may have earned a more subdued respect with his At Budokan release, The Beatles probably know what we mean.

In fact, skipping through. thevisual record on the accompanying DVD, the audience seems (for Japan) positively unrluy, define custom and restraint by attempting to match our protagonist in the sartorial elegance of the day. Most exciting! Meanwhile, onstage is one man and his banks of keyboards. Ah the days when you had to get a different keyboard for each sound. Nowadays it would like ly be on keyboard and a laptop fullof all the sounds you’d ever need – who would have ever thought we’d be remeniscing over the Eighties?

But that comes with the music too as the set is filled with one hit after another – testament to the power of Human’s Lib. It’s an impressive set for an artist with just one album behind him – more than just a one hit (or one album) wonder. With a hit album in the bag and another in the pipeline, the set gets filled out with a Hey Jude done a la Macca solo at the piano and a Bounce Right Back (‘b’ side of Like To Get To Know You Well) that extends the extended version and sees Howard doing a bit of Jools as he shows off his chops with some funky and jazzy piano. The ambient Hide And Seek offers a little respite from the thunder of electronic drums and synth pads and it might just be the fuzzy soft focus of time, but do some bits conjure up In The Air Tonight but with a tad more optimism?

Like To Get To Know You Well and What Is Love? are recognised as old friends, New Song even getting the cheers within a couple of drum beats plus audience participation and a Howard/Jools moment. Not to mention an attempt at the local lingo as he decalres how he’s been waiting for so long to come to Tokyo to sing this song. “This is a song” (small cough) “to all of my friends.

A period piece for sure, but still quite endearing!

Howard Jones online: Website / Twitter / Facebook

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