Singer, songwriter and musician Howard Jones name is synonymous with the 1980s synth pop scene. Hits such as What Is Love, Like to Get to Know You Well and No-one is To Blame shot the Southampton born singer-songwriter to fame on both sides of the Atlantic. Howard continues to tour but reveals he always looks forward to performing in Wales for his Welsh fans and reveals he even has his own Welsh heritage.
“Mum and Dad were both Welsh and spoke Welsh,” he tells Andy Howells, “Dad was from Carmarthenshire. The only thing that stopped me from been fully Welsh was I was born in Southampton because Dad was always moving around.”
Howard, is returning to Wales on November 29 to play Cardiff’s Tramshed venue. This will be his second Welsh gig of 2017, having played a date in Porthcawl back in the spring performing some of his greatest hits on piano. However, his forthcoming Cardiff date will be quite different.
“This is the electric band, of which there are five of us on stage. it’s a full show, videos, lighting, the full production. A total contrast to the Porthcawl gig,“ he laughs.
The tour coincides with Howard’s recent ‘Best of’ release entitled’Best (1983-2017). Audiences can expect to hear many of his hit singles as well as Eagle Will Fly Again a new song that Howard was asked to write especially for the recent Eddie the Eagle biographical film telling the story of Eddie The Eagle Edwards. It’s a project that Howard had great fun participating in.
“In the last year or so I’ve been asked to write songs for films,” Howard continues, “You get to reflect the narrative of the film and I really enjoy doing that. Although it’s part of the film, it still must stand on its own independently and can have a secondary meaning which is not to do with the story of the film. I love the challenge of doing that.”
Best (1983-2017) is an impressive 3-disc collection of Howard’s recordings which focuses on his more recent recordings as well as the greatest hits.
“It’s a great opportunity because it can lead people to some of the work they might have missed,” adds Howard, “it stands up to anything I did in the early days and I always try and keep the quality really high, nothing goes out that isn’t up to standard.”
Given that many artists are so prolific they often have too many recordings to get on to their albums, one wonders if Howard Jones is the same?
“If it’s looking like it isn’t going to work I don’t pursue it, it dies,” responds Howard, “Only the stuff that I can’t get out of my own head stays there. There are artists that might be more prolific than me, but I try to keep the standard high.”
The same can be said for Howard’s concerts, a carefully cultivated setlist comprising hits and album tracks that have been tried, tested and enjoyed by Howard’s band and audiences around the world. Are there any tracks Howard enjoys performing live?
“I really judge a track on how well it goes down live,” says Howard who names You Know I Love You Don’t You?, Human Touch and Engage among his set-list favourites, “if I’m loving it, it stays in. If it gets a lukewarm reaction it gets the boot. It’s all about how people react to it and how it fits in, and if it makes the set energetic.”
Catch Howard Jones at Cardiff’s Tramshed on Wednesday 29th November, 2017.