Howard Jones w/ Midge Ure• June 28, 2022• Red Butte Garden
Reviewed and Photographed by Kevin Rolfe
It was a night for 80s icons at Red Butte Garden Amphitheater. Legendary synth-pop star, Howard Jones played to an adoring sold out audience on a beautiful Tuesday evening in Salt Lake City. He was joined by the “Voice of Ultravox”, Midge Ure. An icon in his own right. Howard Jones has such a strong fanbase here in Utah. He’s played here so many times over the years and people come back every time he tours through. I remember one year he was a support act for Barenaked Ladies. He added his own solo date the next day because there was such a clamoring from his fans to see him in more than a shortened set. He’s also played shows up at Park City’s Egyptian Theater with just him and a piano. Those shows always sell out. There is a connection between Jones and Utah that I can’t totally explain. But it’s there and both parties embrace it.
Midge Ure The Voice of Ultravox
The night began with Midge Ure. I have had the privilege of interviewing Mide Ure a few times. It’s always a great experience chatting with him. Many know Midge Ure as the lead singer of Ultravox. But he’s much more than that. He’s an accomplished songwriter and he is one of the creators of Live Aid, the great mega benefit to bring aid to those in Africa suffering from famine. If you were a music lover who grew up in the 80s, this was a landmark event in your childhood.
While Ultravox didn’t have the same commercial success as their synth-pop predecessors like Depeche Mode, OMD, Pet Shop Boys, or Erasure, they were loved by those in the “know”. Many of those people were in the audience at this show. I’ve seen Ure at various clubs around Utah. His shows are always well attended. It was nice to see him play in one of Utah’s bigger venues. He was so well received by this audience.
Ure shared that he had to program all of the sounds of these songs for this tour because he’d be on this tour without a full band. All the sounds were programmed besides his electric guitar. It was fun to hear these songs in a purely electronic way. It was fitting for the show.
Midge Ure’s set was Ultravox heavy. You’ll get no complaints from me on that. He performed the song “Fade to Grey” by Visage. A band Midge was in prior to Ultravox. Midge was not the lead vocalist in that group but I’ve always enjoyed when he sings it. Another non-Ultravox song on the set was David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World”. A song Ure covered in 1985. Midge shared that he recently discovered that he could see on Spotify which songs of his were streamed the most. He mentioned that this cover was his number one most streamed song by the millions.
Of course, my favorites were the Ultravox songs. A personal favorite of mine, “Reap the Wild Wind” was well received by the crowd. People began to stand up and sway to the song. Ure shared that it was a song featured on MTV in the early days. He told us that the USA had MTV but no videos and the UK had an endless supply of videos but not MTV to show them. Because of that, many Ultravox songs made it onto the channel.
While it felt fast, Ure’s set was filled with great songs like, “The Voice”, “Hymn”, and “All Stood Still”. I’d say the crowd favorite was “Vienna”. It’s such a powerful sounding song and has such a huge chorus that people love to sing along to. And sing along they did. I was so happy for Midge. He looked so happy on that stage and deserved the ovation he got. He still sounds great after all these years. Songs like “Dancing With Tears in Our Eyes” cannot be easy to sing after all these years. But he has figured out a way to present them without any of them loosing their bite. He can’t come back to Salt Lake City soon enough.
Midge Ure got the crowd fired up. Now it was up to Howard Jones to keep them up. This was never an issue. The moment Jones stepped on stage the majority of the audience rose to their feet. He was wearing a highlighter yellow sweater so finding him on stage was never an issue. He greeted his fans with open arms and judging the way he responded to their cheers we knew this was going to be a great night of music. He flew threw the first few songs, and about five songs in he pumped the breaks.
He told us he didn’t want to move on to the next song yet because he was enjoying the moment too much. I think everyone needed that breather to just take in the moment. The night was going by quickly. We were having so much fun. The moment didn’t last too long as we were right back into it. As the sun was setting it seemed like people were becoming more comfortable in their own skin. By the time “Life in One Day” started, all of Red Butte Garden was up dancing and singing.
My favorite song of Howard Jones’ is hands down, “No One Is To Blame”. Especially when he performs it with just the piano. Maybe that’s the only way he does it now, but I was excited when the band stepped away and Jones performed the song while sitting at his keyboard. One by one phone lights illuminated the darkened crowd. Jones gave the crowd opportunities to sing along or even take the vocals themselves. There were so many highlights up to this point, but I thought nothing would top this one for me. I was wrong.
“I feel, how do you say in America? Stoked.” Howard said. He seemed to be having a great time. I don’t think you can fake that. Yes, he has the best job in the world in my opinion. But I’m sure some nights can be tough to get excited to walk on stage. But that night at Red Butte Garden, Howard Jones seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself. It was felt by the audience. Everyone seemed so engaged with everything Jones was saying.
Jones shared with us his feelings about Midge Ure. He was happy to have him on the tour and stated that Midge was a “True friend in the industry”. “Great legends leave a legacy. The legacy that he left us was Band Aid and Live Aid”. The audience erupted. Live Aid and the all-star lineup of British musicians who were in Band Aid had such a huge impact on the raising of funds for those in need in Africa. Jones shared that money is still made to this day. Jones then invited Midge Ure back to the stage. The crowd cheered, I was so excited. “What are they going to sing?! Could it possibly be?!” I was. They sang a duet of the Band Aid song, written by Midge Ure, “Do They Know It’s Christmas”. I did not care that Christmas was six months away. I was beyond excited to hear this song. Now that was a huge unexpected highlight.
As the show resumed I noticed some lightning in the distance. It was moving closer throughout the night until there was one bolt of lightning close enough to draw “Oohs” and “Aaah”s from the crowd. Some folks packed up and left, but most people stuck around. After a couple more bright flashes, it was decided that a fine minute breath was necessary. A few more people left but it seemed most of us were determined to see the show through!
As soon as they could, the band and Howard returned to the stage. They came back in full force and performed “Everlasting Love”. It took the remaining audience no time to get back into the show. Jones thanked the audience for coming out. He reminded them of the early days playing in Park City. Stating that they were still some of the “most fun gigs ever”. The hits kept coming in with, “What is Love”. I forget sometimes just how many hits Howard Jones has.
The main set ended with what Jones called his mantra during the pandemic, “Things Can Only Get Better”. People were dancing and singing so loud. I loved seeing people taken back to such a fun time in their lives. The song was extended to include the Dedric and Howard Jones remixed version. The night was lifted to another level. Red Butte Garden turned into a club atmosphere. Jones walked off the stage to a roaring audience.
The night ended on a softer tone with Howard Jones returning to the stage along. He performed the song he sang at Live Aid, “Hide and Seek” reminding us of the uplifting lyric, “Hope you find it in Everything”. What a night, what a show. Howard Jones always brings his best to Utah. Jones mentioned that Salt Lake City feels like his hometown. Come home soon, Howard!