Music

Kim Wilde & Howard Jones Turn Back The Clock In Memorable Show

kim_wilde_2015_0675b_photo-by-steve-ullathorneThe Kim Wilde and Howard Jones show finished much better than it started with the quality of sound increasing immensely, but the older audience filled with mainly baby boomers were fully engaged and excited throughout the entire night.

Retro icon Howard Jones drew a huge crowd early. The gig started earlier than expected with no additional support, throwing younger punters off a little. Parading around with a strange biker-cross college jacket Jones was full of confidence. His two piece band were reasonably solid but the sound was a tad washed out at points. The electric kit with the lit cymbals looked sharp and the 80s sample bass grooves sounded simultaneously dated and periodically relevant. The key tar solo added a unique touch to the show, tying in with Jones’ enigmatic crowd engagement. Cool synth and drum pad sounded mediocre or fantastic depending on the track. The portable headset microphone didn’t sound as good as a decent Sennheiser or even a Shure. Despite Howard’s enthusiasm his voice sounded worn ragged. Modern expectations of live sound and performance are much higher than Jones could produce but the older audiences lapped it up, singing along in parts.

Despite a couple of the same band members, Kim Wilde was more than a step up from Howard Jones. The expanded live band was a welcome addition with the sound greatly improved, particularly the scene-stealing prominent back up vocalist, later revealed to be Wilde’s niece, Scarlett. Wilde’s brother was also the rhythm guitarist and obviously loved being on stage with family. The lead guitarist also clearly wasn’t afraid to show off his chops with searing solos, which would have been appreciated by an audience big on 80s sounds.

The incredibly strong pop hooks sounded fantastic, with material comparable to Madonna’s best in the early to mid 80s. The rocking melodies are still much stronger than a lot of modern pop and much more so than 90s bubblegum pop.
“Cambodia” had a great reception with the audience clapping along. “If I can’t have you” started soft and got stronger building into a big arrangement. Keep me hanging on sounded perfect live with lovely backing vocals. The cover of 80s hit “You Spin Me Round” was a welcome surprise for a very 80s centric audience. The razer sharp arrangement of “Kids in America” including gathering around the drummer at the start was a  masterstroke.
Wilde’s show was hugely impressive, given the high quality material, the killer live band and Wilde’s genuine and warm personality. In a touching ending Howard Jones joined Wilde, her niece and her brother on stage for a cover of Beach Boys hit “God Only Knows”. The four part harmony over the original Beach Boys backing track was a surprising and refreshing end to the show.

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