Howard was supported by the beautiful solo folk singer Elise Yuill and it's not often the auditorium is full for the support act, but Elise pulled in a big crowd for this all seated event.
Local Southwest artist, Elise played an acoustic set with songs from her debut EP ‘A Thousand Angels Tears’ and new material from her forthcoming crowdfunded album.
Listening to her soulful enchanting voice on her EP, it really is a delight, I particularly enjoyed the more upbeat ‘Like A Star’.
Elise talked about growing up in Somerset and her love of Dartmoor, the River Dart and the need to protect the natural beauty of the area, before singing ‘Castle of Sand’ with lines like ‘As the icelands melt and the oceans grow’.....exquisite.
There is a beautiful emotion to her voice, portraying the feeling of the song, which was evident in ‘Five Regrets’, her song based on the book ‘The Five Regrets of the Dying’ by Bronnie Ware.
Elise talked about the support she has received from Howard Jones in her song writing career and how Howard produced her EP. If you get the opportunity then do go and see Elise and have a look at her Crowdfunding campaign page to support her debut album release: she really is a delight.
I am a long-time fan of Howard Jones, growing up listening to his ‘Human’s Lib’ and ‘Dream into Action’ albums with posters on my wall, I'm quite amazed I’ve not had the chance to see him live before, but it was worth the wait as this was a total joy.
Frankly I would have been happy just to hear him sing one of my all-time favourite songs ‘Hide and Seek’ – but this gig was so much more with wonderfully told stories from his three decade career.
Howard Jones started in the early 1980s with a contemporary, pioneering synthesizer sound with thought provoking lyrics. His early hits included ‘New Song’, ‘Like to Get to Know you Well’ and ‘What is Love’.
As Howard takes to the stage with just a keyboard setup, we know we are in for a stripped back set, the synthesised drum beats are gone, this is a chance to see just what a phenomenal keyboard player Howard is.
Howard lives just an hour up the road in Somerset and he greets the audience with a, ‘Hey the Southwest rocks, people say "hello" when you are out walking here.’ Then he is off, playing a jazzed up version of ‘Pearl in the Shell’ from 1984 ‘Human’s Lib’ album.
We are then treated to the story of the song ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, being a favourite of his parents and how his song ‘Straight Ahead’ is his kind of version of that.
More funny anecdotes about his parents running his fan club and how his mum would write supportive letters back, which meant he would turn up to cities on his US tour and fans would be more excited to meet his parents and take them off sightseeing!
Next is the ‘Back In Your Life’ from the 1997 ‘Angels & Lovers’ album which is a great song with lovely keyboard playing. Then after more funny tales that have the whole audience laughing, we are treated to ‘Ever Lasting Love’ from the 1989 album ‘Cross That Line’.
A stand out song for me was definitely the as yet unreleased ‘Hero In Your Eyes’. Howard was recently approached by Gary Barlow to write some songs for the new film ‘Eddie The Eagle’, based on the former Olympic ski jumpers life.
Howard talked about how the script was ‘right up my street…how you can achieve your dreams’ and the role Eddie the Eagle’s mum and dad played in their son’s life, always believing in him.
When Howard sang ‘Hero In Your Eyes’ I definitely had a few tears running down my face. Talking to Howard about this he said he cried many times whilst writing it and when he sang it to his daughter for the first time. Definitely touching for parents to hear, making me look forward even more to the movie now.
Howard talked about the song ‘Like To Get To Know You Well’ and how one of the hardest things to do is go up to new people, but this is about one of the best ways to help with harmony, a song about making friends and universal friendship. Great to hear this classic, still full of energy and accompanied by a very funny story about the translation into Japanese and the trouble it almost caused him.
Howard then played ‘City Song’, one which he does not often perform, followed by ‘Things Can Only Get Better, ‘Someone You Need’ and ‘No One Is To Blame’.
A great story about playing Live Aid with Queen, David Bowie, Phil Collins, Pete Townsend, Paul and Linda McCartney led into my favourite ‘Hide and Seek’. This song worked even better live with just a keyboard, absolutely beautiful and again bought me to tears. It really was worth going just for this, I felt quite emotional and blown away by it.
As Howard plays ‘What Is Love’ I found myself smiling with nostalgic joy.
Howard comes across as very grateful and humble for all the amazing experiences he has had. There is a real genuine integrity to him. He said he felt very fortunate to sing these songs written early in his career, and he still sings them with conviction as it is the lyrics that really matter to him.
It is so enjoyable to hear the stories behind the songs and his career, he breaks them down with funny tales of the lyrics as he sings ‘Like Your Life In One Day’.
For the encore we have a cover of the Brian Wilson song ‘God Only Knows’, before the final treat of ‘New Song’ – it may be over 30 years old but still feels new. What an end to a fantastic gig.
Review by Molly Mole
Photography by 241photography.co.uk