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Howard Jones - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester 30.05.2019

China Crisis were the support act tonight for Howard Jones, and began the show with one of their biggest hits 'Black Man Ray'.

Gary Daly one of the original members joked it was the other way round back in the day with Howard supporting them. After a comment about being Scoucers performing in Manchester and being turned down by Tony Wilson at Factory Records they carry on with 'African' and 'White And Christian'.

Then it’s straight into 'King In A Catholic Style' which gets the seated audience finally on their feet dancing and hand clapping along before ending their set with another favourite and big hit 'Wishful Thinking'. After being reminded just how great this band are I will be booking tickets to see them perform at The Live Rooms in Chester on the 21st of June.

After a 30 minute interval we were ready for Howard and he didn’t disappoint. Taking to the piano, this classically trained pianist gave a master class on how to start a show singing 'Hide And Seek' a song he performed at Live Aid. He talked about memories from that famous concert such as how he arrived with Queen in a helicopter and meeting some of his heroes Paul and Linda McCartney and David Bowie.

Then it’s the title track from the new album 'Transform'. Howard, Dan Burton and Robbie Bronimann perform on three large synths pounding out beats in front a stage sized computer screen background, reminding me of a Kraftwerk set, now playing piano and synth as he launches into 'No One Is To Blame'.

Next is, 'Life In One Day', accompanied by guitarist Robin Boult. A more mature Howard Jones jokingly changes the words from “don’t take life so seriously” to “take life seriously".. And then it's 'Like To Get To Know You Well' which is always a real crowd pleaser. The screen then changes and two young male dancers perform to another one of his new songs 'The One To Love You' which is absolutely beautiful.

These are powerful ballads and the audience are loving the new stuff. Again it’s the Korg synth and piano combination that delivers a truly powerful sound to all of the new tracks just like the old ones.

The penultimate song is another one of his hits 'What Is Love' which has the whole crowd up on their feet singing and dancing along. The show finally ends with 'This Is My Song' with the original video playing along in the background.

I would be quite happy to see Howard perform now without the older songs. Tonights stand out songs for me were 'The One To Love', 'Take Us Higher' and 'Transform' . But he would still have to include 'Hide & Seek', a brilliant night all round.

Review - Alison Jones

Photos - Brent Jones

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