Howard Jones at The Epstein, Liverpool

Posted on 13 February 2016
By Chris High
  • Share:

Intimate, personalised and richly entertaining, Howard Jones stepped onto the Epstein Theatre stage and, for two hours, gave a performance the great manager of The Beatles et al would have been dewy eyed over.

Yet before eulogising about just how good the main attraction remains as a live performer, let’s take a moment and appreciate the support offered by Contemporary Folk singer/ songwriter Elise Yuill who, with a vocal style that is so richly engaging it summons up images of long lost summers, crisp winters and the deep, warming glow of the fireplace within moments. Take a listen to Castle of Sand, Five Regrets or Sunset and you are guaranteed to be emotionally moved by the rich tapestry of her abounding talent.

Not too surprising then that Howard Jones has not only provided her with the support slot on this his latest tour of the highways and byways of Britain, but also produced her EP, A Thousand Angel Tears, which should be endorsement enough of her capabilities.

Jones himself, however, appears to be ageless. Okay so the hair is a lot shorter, not quite so bouffant or as blond as in his eighties heyday, but what’s important is that his seminal voice – whether singing upbeat numbers such as Pearl In A Shell, the show’s opener, or balladic classics such as the superb, richly haunting and fabulously memorable Hide & Seek – with which he rocked the world on a certain summer’s day in July 1985 – remains as recognisable, melodic and enriched with range as ever.

And all this without any synthesised keyboard shenanigans, just blissfully exercised exemplary keyboard skills that are simply mesmeric at times.

He also promises a few surprises and duly delivers. A moving tribute was paid to Liverpool born and Black singer Colin Vearncombe, who tragically passed away earlier this month, with this version of Wonderful Life sent shivers tripping down the spin in waves. This was also the case with Jones’ stripped back version of Brian Wilson’s God Only Knows, replete with harmonised vocal backing, which ranked very highly on the long list of highlights.

Yet what really shines is Jones’ ability to engage with his audience. Anecdote after anecdote fills in the blanks – some funny, such as that which recounts I’d Like Get To Know You Well and the Japanese market reaction – and some serious such as that surrounding Straight Ahead, based on You’ll Never Walk Alone and his parents’ love for the song and the encouragement he was given as a child.

But of course it is the hits that shine and these are all given true deference, whilst also sitting beautifully alongside new material. Life In One Day is still a fabulous, timeless tune and, hopefully, Hero In Your Eyes from the forthcoming movie about the exploits of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards will get due recognition for the exquisiteness of its message and the sumptuousness of its delivery.

All in all, with the impeccable acoustic of The Liverpool Epstein Theatre more than playing its part, Howard Jones after 33 years still has what it takes to wow an audience and all that remains to say is that if he is appearing near you at any time soon, then rush without hesitation to grab a ticket.

Howard Jones
Special Guest: Elise Yuill
The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool
February 12, 2016
PR Rating: **** Electric Entertainment
Tour Information: http://www.howardjones.com
For Elise Yuill Information: http://www.eliseyuill.com

Tour dates

SAT 13 FEBRUARY
Huntingdon Hall, Worcester

SUN 14 FEBRUARY
Sheffield City Hall, Sheffield

THU 18 FEBRUARY
RNCM Theatre, Manchester

FRI 19 FEBRUARY
City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds

SAT 20 FEBRUARY
Drill Hall, Lincoln

SUN 21 FEBRUARY
The Apex, Bury Saint Edmunds,