A Night with the Howard Jones Acoustic Trio and Rachael Sage at Benaroya Hall (1/28/2020)

Before the Howard Jones Acoustic Trio took the stage, the theater manager got on the mic and said, “Welcome to Benaroya Hall. We would like to remind everyone, please no flash photography during this live performance.  If you need help turning the flash off of your device, please ask the closest Millenial.”  The crowd laughed.  The Howard Jones Trio entered.  Howard gets on the mic and the first thing he says, “Before we begin, serious question, are there really any millennials in the audience tonight?”  Myself and five other people raised our hands.  The crowd laughed, while the band smiled.

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Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to see Rachael Sage and an acoustic performance from the Howard Jones Trio.  Howard Jones is an artist I would hear occasionally when riding in the car with my parents.  I don’t think people realize how many of his songs are still in circulation on radio stations that play 80’s hits, or are used random in television shows (pretty sure I heard a song or two of his in Family Guy).  I was pretty excited to see him perform live, and the prospect of seeing him play a full acoustic set had me intrigued.  I mean c’mon.  The guy performed at Live Aid (in 1985).  Who wouldn’t be at least a little excited?

Rachael Sage
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The night opened with Rachael Sage.  Her music style I would describe as a mix of pop, folk, and a little bit of country.  Rachael’s piano playing and her collaborator’s skillful violin playing blended well with her snaps and smooth vibrant voice.  The whole set was mesmerizing.  Her “stage patter” was fun and really made the show more personal.  Seeing how willing she was to let the audience know about her past relationship proclivities, or how she was a cancer survivor, really added another layer of expressiveness to her performance.  The lyrics of the songs already had feelings and themes of hope and perseverance, but hearing the perspective she was coming from, it was very reflective and if anything more captivating.  You could really feel the emotion in her performance.

The Howard Jones Trio
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Howard Jones is a seasoned performer.  You can tell he and his bandmates have been performing for years.  What I love about these acoustic sets, it allows for the performers to be more casual with the audience.  Hearing his admiration for Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson, his opinions about Ed Sheeran’s performance at Glastonbury, or how it feels to still make new music today, were just fun.  Regarding the music, he performed a handful of songs form his new album, two or three covers, and as a seasoned performer would, he played the hits.  Most of Howard’s hits were originally performed on synthesizers or contained some sort of electronic aspect to them, so seeing the creative interpretations of the songs by his acoustic trio really made the songs feel almost new and fresh.  I’m sure the audience loved the takes as many took the opportunity to sing along with Howard, which at times even took him by surprise.  The other members of the trio, Nick Beggs and Robin Boult, really stood out in their musicianship.  Beggs especially continually drew attention with how rapid he would play his instrument.  I was sure to pick up Howard’s latest album after the show wrapped.

Overall it was a very enjoyable evening.  Speaking from the perspective of one of the six millennials in the audience that night, I recommend checking out The Howard Jones Trio with Rachael Sage.  Millenial or not, I feel like there was something for everyone to enjoy at this show.

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