Howard Jones’ bond with Utah fans has lasted 35 years
Howard Jones will perform at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7, to Saturday, Feb. 10, and at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11, at the Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St. For information, visit http://www.parkcityshows.com.
Howard Jones, the ‘80s iconic singer and songwriter known for the new wave hits “Don’t Try to Live Your Life in One Day” and “No One Is to Blame,” said playing in Utah is like a homecoming.
“Since I first played there — actually in Park City — in 1983, I’ve always had a connection with the people and it’s never gone away,” Jones said. “I just think that connection we formed in the early days has stuck, so every time I come back to play it’s always a pleasure. It’s like coming back and seeing old friends.”
Jones will return to Park City for a five-night run from Feb. 7-11, at the Egyptian Theatre. This time around, the hitmaker will perform a solo acoustic concert, like he did back in 2015.
“I think people know me for the acoustic stuff as much now as they do for the electronic music,” Jones said. “They are polar opposites, but I’ve done them in parallel in my career. And they balance everything out.”
While Jones enjoys the contrast of these two formats, he said the acoustic concerts allow him to experiment more.
“The solo show is very intimate and I can talk a lot,” he said. “I also have time to play songs that I would never normally play with a band.”
Jones said he also likes playing the piano, which he started playing when he was 7.
“Although a lot of the songs from my first two albums (1984’s “Human’s Lib” and 1985’s “Dream Into Action”) were not written at the piano [because] they were written with all of my gear, drum machines and sequencers, the more straightforward songs like ‘No One Is to Blame’ were written at the piano,” he said. “It’s my go-to instrument.”
When faced with a tour of acoustic concerts, Jones likes to approach the sets in a flexible way.
“I usually find that I have a new and fresh way of performing the songs because there is so much freedom,” he said. “I really allow that to happen, because people who come to the shows aren’t expecting the songs to sound like the record. They want a fresh interpretation of a song.”
The trick is to not overthink the songs.
“What I try to do with a song that I’ve been performing for 35 years is to not rehearse them too much,” he said. “So when I do play them something new happens. I think it’s very important to do that.”
These solo shows feature the popular tunes, but also deep cuts from Jones’ extensive catalog that spans 35 years.
“I do pay attention when people write to me and tell me the songs that mean so much to them,” he said. “That does influence me, especially with a song like ‘Specialty’ from ‘Dream Into Action’ album, because that is not an obvious song to play on the piano.”
The musician also has a few obscure songs that he likes to play.
“There are songs from the ‘People’ album that I have that aren’t so well known that I particularly love,” he said. “I also throw in some covers, maybe one each night. There are a whole bunch of options I can choose from to make every night different.”
Jones also takes his relationship with his fans seriously.
“It’s a great honor to hear that my songs have become soundtracks to their lives,” he said. “And with that comes a responsibility to try to be the things portrayed in the songs. That means I need to be consistent and not suddenly turn into a monster, because what that does is negates all the faith and good will they have towards you.”
Jones is currently working on a new album that he hopes to release at the end of this year.
“I’ve got five tracks that are pretty much done and I am working on a bunch of others,” he said. “I won’t be touring all year. I think these upcoming weeks will be the most I’ll be on the road so I can be at home to finish the album.”
Throughout his career, Jones has made it a point to challenge himself as an artist. And that’s what keeps him going.
“It doesn’t matter how many years you do something, you still feel the anxiety that you want to do a great show,” he said. “Even if the past 100 shows were amazing, you still worry about the night that you won’t play so well. And overcoming that anxiety is what makes this so enjoyable to do.
“I feel that I am getting better as I get older,” he said. “It’s what I do, and it’s the way I can contribute to life.”
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