Howard Jones ready to ‘Transform’ songs to acoustic renderings during 10-night residency at the Egyptian Theatre
What: Howard Jones
When: Thursday, Feb. 6, through Sunday, Feb. 16, excluding Monday, Feb. 10; Sunday concerts will start at 6 p.m. the rest of the shows begin at 8 p.m.
Where: The Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.
Cost: Thursdays run from $39-$59. Friday tickets run from $45-$65, and Saturday and Sunday tickets run from $53-$69
Howard Jones is taking the advice from his 1985 Top 20 hit, “Don’t Try to Live Your Life in One Day,” when he comes to Park City this week.
The synthpop and electronic-music pioneer will perform nine-night residency from Thursday Feb. 6 through Sunday, Feb. 16, except Feb. 10, at the Egyptian Theatre.
Jones, who made his Utah debut at Park West, now called Canyons Village, in 1983, is ready for his extended stay in town.
“I think I’ve done five or six nights there before, but I don’t think anyone has done 10 before,” Jones said, chuckling. “It may be a world record, really. That appeals to me quite a bit, because it’s also pretty nice to be in one place, and such a beautiful place, for that amount of time.”
The run will feature Jones’s acoustic concerts, with Nick Beggs on the chapman stick, a guitar-like instrument that is tapped, rather than strummed, and Robin Bolt on acoustic guitar.
“Both Nick and Robin are such amazing individual musicians, and we’ve known each other for decades,” Jones said. “So we get on incredibly well, and I think it comes out into the music.”
Taking the electronic mix out of the songs that have been around for nearly 40 years appeals to Jones.
“I really like the idea of constantly finding new things even in the songs people know really well,” he said. “It’s almost like the mentality of covering my own songs. I can keep updating and trying new things.”
The sets Jones plans to perform at the Egyptian Theatre will feature many new additions, including songs from his most recent album “Transform.”
“There are a lot of songs that I haven’t done with the trio before, and I’m playing a few songs from the new album, which is very interesting, because it’s a very electric album,” he said. “These songs, however, have lent themselves very well to acoustic treatments, which I didn’t think would happen.”
“Transform” marks Jones’ first traditional album in a decade. His prior release, “Engage,” which was released in 2015, was more of an audio-visual project, he said.
“‘Transform’ is back to that 10-track record,” Jones said.
Still, “Transform” was made differently than the singer-songwriter’s past albums, because of the collaboration with trance music pioneer BT.
“I’ve been a huge fan of BT for a long time,” Jones said. “I’ve admired his work as an electronic pioneer, and I really like him as a person.”
Jones and BT (born Brian Wayne Transeau) met nearly two years ago.
“I visited him in his studio, and we talked about how we really need to do some stuff together,” Jones said. “And we just didn’t talk about it. We did it.”
The two wrote and produced three tracks on “Transform” — “The One to Love You,” “Transform” “At the Speed of Love” and the album’s title track.
“It was a really fruitful collaboration, and we have plans to work with each other again,” Jones said.
In addition to coming up with new songs, the collaboration also improved Jones’ playing and composing.
“When you admire the person you’re working with, there is a great incentive to up your game,” he said. “You want them to not just like what you’ve added to the partnership, but to be blown away a bit. I think there’s an extra excitement when you collaborate, and I’ve hardly ever done it in my whole career.”
Jones said his career, which includes a string of multi-platinum-selling albums and singles, started with piano lessons when he was seven.
“My parents wanted me to learn the piano,” he said. “They were Welsh, and there is a tradition that you learn an instrument.”
The first two years of piano lessons were “a grind,” he said.
“When you’re seven, it’s quite difficult to practice, because you want to be out there playing soccer or cricket,” Jones said.
Things changed when he turned 9.
“I distinctly remember hearing something on the radio and being able to pick it out on the piano,” Jones said. “From there, It gradually became an almost unhealthy obsession, and I would practice four hours a day, totally disrupting our household and the neighbors. So, I apologize now for any life I’ve ruined, but I just had to do it. And it’s paid off in the end for me.”
Jones doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon.
“It is exciting, and I love what I do,” he said. “I wouldn’t have thought that I’d still be doing this, but I am. And there’s life in the old dog, yet.”
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