No one is to blame?
Maybe not. But I feel I owe Howard Jones an apology.
See, I was supposed to interview the ‘80s synth star last week in advance of his August 25th show at Cleveland PAC Masonic Auditorium, but realized too late that my Pleistocene cell phone plan doesn’t cover international calls to Ho Jo’s native England.
So I cancelled last-minute, tail between my legs.
Sorry, Mr. Jones!
It’s too bad, really. I’m a huge “Ho Jo” fan. I still have his entire ‘80s and ‘90s output on cassette. Plunked down hard-earned paperboy and pizza shop money to get them, too. And I had a head full of questions to ask Jones about some lesser-known tunes from One to One (1986), Cross That Line (1989), and In The Running (1992). Most people know “Everlasting Love” and “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?” But songs like “Guardians of The Breath,” “The Prisoner,” “Little Bit of Snow,” ”The Voices Are Back,” and “Good Luck, Bad Luck” still fascinate me.
I’d have asked Jones what prompted him to create not one but two versions of uber-ballad “No One Is To Blame,” the latter of which (from the 1986 EP Action Replay) topped charts around the globe. I’d have asked him about working with ace producer Hugh Padgham and Phil Collins, who had the Midas touch in the ‘80s (with or without Genesis) and sprinkled some of gold dust on the Jones smash by adding his gated drums and background vocals.
I’d have tossed out a question or two about Jones’ keyboards, if only to get a mental picture of the array of gizmos and gadgets I’ve been listening to all these years. To understand what made all those big brass sounds and sinewy strings on the bubbly “New Song,” bouncy “Things Can Only Get Better,” and reggae-tinged “Like to Get to Know You Well.”
I’d have queried Jones on his wardrobe, too. He was always ahead of the curve when it came to cool threads and haircuts, and being a trendsetter in the fashion-conscious ‘80s was huge.
I’d have asked Howard about his private record label, Dtox, and what prompted him to go indie (starting with 1994’s Working in the Backroom). I’d have pardoned for not keeping up with his catalog in the late ‘90s and ‘00s. In my defense, however, several of Jones’ later albums (Angels & Lovers, People, Revolution of the Heart) were limited to England or Japan, available in the U.S. only as pricey imports (if at all). I’d have asked Jones about his transition back to piano for the Live Acoustic America album and tour in 1996-97, and I definitely would’ve mentioned seeing him go unplugged in concert at The Winchester in Lakewood a few years back.
But this isn’t about apologies and what-ifs.
On the contrary, it’s about the future. How refreshing!
Ho Jo is plugging back in for Retro Futura, a throwback package tour whose limited run (fifteen or so dates) will find him playing all the old hits alongside—wait for it—Tom Bailey, formerly of The Thompson Twins (“Lies,” “Hold Me Now,” “King for a Day”).
Joining Jones and Bailey at the historic Masonic on E. 36th will be Katrina Leskanich, who—as singer for Katrina and The Waves—scored with “Walking on Sunshine” in 1985.
Rounding out the bill of British All-Stars are China Crisis (“Wishful Thinking,” “Best Kept Secret”) and Midge Ure of Ultravox (“Sleepwalk,” “Passing Strangers”).
Bailey formed Thompson Twins with then-girlfriend Alannah Currie in 1977. After dropping a couple members (and adding percussionist / producer Joe Leeway), the three-piece struck big with the albums Into The Gap (1984) and Here’s to Future Days (1985). Like Jones, they played Bob Geldof’s Live Aid in London (with Madonna and Nile Rodgers), became regulars on then-fledgling MTV, and sent “Doctor, Doctor!” and “Lay Your Hands” into heavy rotation on FM radio before fizzing out in the early ‘90s.
Bailey and Currie continued for a time as the techno-duo Babble. Later, Bailey collaborated with the band Stellar, contributed to the dub project International Observer, and teamed with Puerto Rican artist / astronomer Jose Francisco Salgado in the audiovisual project BSP.
The Retro Futura Tour finds Bailey performing the old Thompson Twins classics for the first time in nearly thirty years.
We’re not sure what nudged Bailey back into the spotlight, or what turned Ho Jo’s gaze across the pond once more. We’re just tickled the musicians (and their mates) are still around, and have dusted off the gear for a trip down memory lane together. With one another. With us. Thankful they saw fit to add Cleveland to the short list.
Adding the sets up, each Retro Futura blast-from-the-past should last about four hours.
That’s four magnificent hours of singing, dancing, and feeling like you’re in junior high school again.
Minus the blemishes and braces.
So we’re counting on seeing you there, all you fellow ‘80s nerds, jocks, freaks, and “neo-maxi-zoom-dweebies.” Snag a few seats for yourself and your former classmates. Parking’s free across the street is free, last time we checked.
Retro Futura Tour (featuring Howard Jones, Tom Bailey, Katrina, China Crisis, and Midge Ure). Monday, August 25, 2014 at Cleveland PAC Masonic Auditorium (3615 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland OH 44115). Tickets $18.00-$80.00. Doors open at 6:00pm, show at 7:00pm.
Advance tickets available at the link below: