The Cathedral Concerts series at Cleveland's oldest church, Trinity Cathedral, presented another extraordinary show last night as U.K. synthpop icon Howard Jones and his band performed in front of an ecstatic crowd. Alternating between a keytar which allowed him to roam across and even off the stage and a keyboard connected to a laptop, Jones focused his electronica-heavy set on his indelible '80s hits: "Everlasting Love," "New Song," "No One Is To Blame" and "What Is Love," to name a few. Highlights included "Blame" — during which the audience's loud singing filled the church's cavernous space — and a delightfully retro-sounding, digitally processed take on "The Prisoner," which featured a squalling keytar solo.
Ever the innovator, Jones also performed three songs from ENGAGE, his new DVD/CD project; "Hold On To Your Heart" was a pleasing synthpop surge, while the more upbeat, danceable "The Human Touch" further established his pedigree as an EDM godfather. The set-closing version of "Things Can Only Get Better" — first the snappy, funk-edged version and then a techno-inflected reprise of the song—also underscored Jones' love of electronic textures and trends. By this time, audience members had long since abandoned their seats for dancing space in front of the stage, where they sang along heartily and lustily to the songs.
Sporting a shocking pink tailored suit and his trademark spiky haircut, Jones clearly loved this audience connection and performing in the venue; his voice had a far more soulful tint throughout the night, while the keyboards had an almost gospel edge to them. He also unleashed plenty of amusing stage banter, including the tale of a record label man who told him that eventual hit "No One Is To Blame" was a mere b-side (which caused Jones to learn early on to "believe in your own work") and a lengthy lyrical dissection of "Life In One Day," during which Jones lightly poked fun at some of his own writing and mentioned famous flautists such as Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson and Ron Burgundy. Jones also interacted with the crowd—high-fiving people during "What Is Love," taking a photo with a fan at another time and commenting on the enthusiasm of the audience.
He also rewarded fans with a moving version of the Human's Lib track "Hide and Seek," which he admitted was one of his favorite songs; Jones began the song singing solo at a piano and then moved back to his synth setup and had the band join in, a slow build that amplified the song's emotional impact. In the end, what stood out most of all about the show was how much Jones still loves sharing his music with fans; the passion he has for performing and creating — and how thankful he is to still be doing these things thirty-plus years later — elevated the concert into transcendent territory.
Pearl In The Shell
Like To Get To Know You Well
No One Is To Blame
Life In One Day
The Human Touch
What Is Love
Hide And Seek
Hold On To Your Heart
Things Can Only Get Better
Things Can Only Get Better - techno reprise