Tom Bailey, voice of the Thompson Twins, performs at The Wilbur in Boston on Aug. 24 (Photo courtesy The
Midge Ure, OBE, lead singer of Ultravox and cofounder of the Live Aid music festival, stepped out onto stage in front of a house band.
“Give us this day, all that you showed me/the power and the glory, ‘til my kingdom come!”
He belted out his lyrics a Capella before thundering into the guitar riff that serves as the backbone to “Hymn,” one of the best songs from his sadly absent band Ultravox. The high-minded content of Ure’s pop songs are a bit unusual these days, but his songs fit right in on a concert tour lineup that included a hearty group of romantic optimists—among them Howard Jones and Tom Bailey (formerly of the Thompson Twins).
The mini-festival winding its way across the United States at the moment is called the Retro Futura tour, and unfortunately it did not stop in DC on its way across the country. The closest it got was a suburb of Philadelphia on Friday, Aug. 22. In previous years, the tour had stopped here under its former name, the Regeneration Tour.
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Once upon a time, Howard Jones rolled through the DC metro area and played some of his familiar hits.
It was Oct. 3, 2007, actually. He performed at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., and it was frankly not the greatest show I ever had seen. The famously camera-shy Englishman played acoustic piano, strumming keys to lyrics he had written some 20 years previously, only to stop frequently and poke fun at his own songwriting abilities and the occasional curious rhyme. He had become Howard Jones, The Lounge Act. All in all, it was a bit of a disheartening experience.
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Howard Jones, English maestro of catchy synthpop songs, found a home on the American charts in the 1980s, particularly with this hit “No One Is to Blame” in 1985. He is perhaps still best recognized for his first two albums, Human’s Lib and Dream into Action, which showcases Jones’ distinctive and friendly voice. Jones remastered those first two albums and toured on them in 2010 in England. With the warm reaction to the performance, which sees Jones return to a full electronic set, he took the tour on the road in the last few years and lands at The Howard Theatre today.
Jones was one of a certain kind of male singer-songwriter to come out of his generation, reflecting on love, life and loss in a manner similar to adult contemporary masters like Phil Collins and Robert Palmer. But unlike his peers, Jones served as the poet-philosopher for the New Wave crowd particularly, driving eclectic dancehall kids to embrace an occasionally more mature lyric. Jones’ return to the synthesizer is bound to provoke memories of how effortlessly he embodies both carefree dance and thoughtful reflection in his tunes.
Tickets to this all-ages show are available online for $30 plus fees or $35 at the door. Doors open at 6pm; showtime is 8pm.