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Howard Jones performing live on stage in 2010

Howard Jones with Duncan Sheik and Jonathan Atkinson

Ordinary Heroes Tour

Pacific Road Arts Centre, Birkenhead

September 16, 2010 (touring until December)

Howard Jones has picked a class act for his supporting artist on his current Ordinary Heroes tour in multi-award winning singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik, for here is a man who clearly knows his craft. Beginning his 40 minute set with I Don’t Do Sadness from his smash-hit, Tony Award winning West End and Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, demonstrates his talents brilliantly. His voice, chocolate smooth and clear as crystal, is tailor made for the intimacy of this acoustically fabulous venue and his style of music and engagement with this audience soon has them purring.

The Tale of Solomon Snell is from his latest musical project, The Whisper House, and tells of a man who, fearing being buried alive in 19th Century Maine following a Yellow Fever epidemic, he had a bell tied to his finger by a string prior to interment so that he could alert passers-by. Despite the dour scenario, the upbeat tempo really works and promises great things for the musical itself once the long process of transferring from page-to-stage is complete.

There then followed songs from Sheik’s own back-catalogue including For You and Such Reveries, before leaving the stage on a high with fantastically energetic cover of Depeche Mode’s classic, Stripped, which features on his latest album Covers 80.

Howard Jones 2010Though Geography is clearly not the singer’s strong point – referring to Birkenhead as Liverpool is not the best way to endear him to anyone on this side of the river, after all – the mastery in which Sheik performs, displays his astute ear for musical magic and overall charm, he left the audience cheering for more and set the scene nicely for the main event.

What is extraordinary about Howard Jones is that despite a career that has lasted well over thirty years, his voice has barely altered from when he was wowing audiences in the early-to-mid eighties, as could easily be seen when he set out with Pearl In A Shell, which had everyone clapping and singing along from the off.

With his highly acclaimed Ordinary Heroes album being the cause celebre behind the tour – an album which gained 4 stars in MOJO magazine on its release – naturally Jones concentrated on putting tracks from it front and centre. The title track itself is worth an investment alone; a rich song of deep intensity that focuses on those people who go about their daily lives without ever appearing to get the praise they deserve for the jobs they do. Nobody’s To Blame, too, is a worthy addition to anybody’s catalogue.

Backed faultlessly by Jonathan Atkinson on drums and percussion, and sharing stories that spanned his career, Jones is clearly a performer at ease with himself and this warmth only serves to endear him further to his faithful following and only adds to an already vibrant atmosphere.

But of course it is the hits that most people want to hear and Like To Get To Know  You Well, What Is Love, New Song and the simply majestic Hide and Seek all brought the house down. Yet it was his duet on Tears for Fears smash Shout with Duncan Sheik taking the lead on acoustic guitar whilst Jones and Atkinson backed him on sublime keyboards and drums that will remain the true stand out moment of what was an unforgettable night’s entertainment.

Chris High



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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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