Things Can Only Get Better (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday I started talking about my epic trip to Tucson to see Men Without Hats and Howard Jones. You may think I was teasing you all by talking so little about the concert and more about the hotel and my exciting week. The delay had more to do with my hangover and the desire to treat this topic with more care than my queasy stomach (and incredibly loud children) would allow, but if it had the added benefit of keeping you all at the edge of your seats then so be it.

Men Without Hats had two songs I knew in the 80s. Safety Dance and Pop Goes the World. I loved them both, but did not spend any time examining the music they made that wasn’t played on KZZP. Now that I have seen Ivan Doroschuk in action I am sad about this.

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As I mentioned yesterday, this was an outdoor concert in Tucson in August. Not the ideal venue. Tickets were $20. The crowd was not giant (I will say the concert was not well promoted – I only knew it was happening because of TucsonScene James posting it on Facebook.) Ivan performed as if in front of thousands of fans, and he appeared to enjoy it. Unlike some stars, he didn’t even seem to mind the fact that many people came just to hear Safety Dance. He did mention he wrote it in the year his keyboardist was born, and you can see she is quite young.

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Clearly not a veteran member of the band.

What I also love is that his new music is quite great. This seems to be a challenge for rock stars, right? To keep producing music that makes sense 20 years after their peak. I came home and bought his new album right away, and I would encourage you to check out Love in the Age of War.

I did not want them to stop playing. I hope they keep touring and I hope I get to see them again.

They wasn’t an encore. I wouldn’t do one either under these conditions. There was a brief break while the crew uncovered Howard’s instruments (it was raining earlier, so everything was covered in tarps.)

While I was standing there feeling the euphoria of a live concert, a little bit of vodka, nostalgia, and camaraderie with my fellow man (I became best friends with the girl standing next to me), I took this photo. Pretty sure Elissa, Julie and I all owned a similar bag at some point in our lives. I can’t believe this girl still had hers!)

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Howard arrived. I love him today just as much as I did when I was 14. Probably more. It’s funny how the music you listen to at that time in your life really shapes your life’s philosophy. I hear these lyrics and think “YES! You get it Howard. You get me. You really get me.”

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(I do realize that Howard Jones does not actually “get” me. I’m not that delusional. But it reminds me of an Anna Nalick song where she addresses her listeners and says “Should ever we meet on your side of the stereo/I will pretend to know not of your thoughts/and even the way that they mirror my own.” Love me some Anna Nalick. She’s impossible to see live though.)

I was pleased to see he still plays the Keytar. I remember this from my first concert. He may be a bit older but he can still rock it.

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Howard Jones is now 58. I hope when I am 58 I am still doing what I love with as much energy. That means he was 31 when I saw him last. Age is such a funny thing. I really thought he was closer to my age, which I guess doesn’t make any sense.

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The drummer, he might be my age. I haven’t seen these drums in years. Way more practical than a real drum set.

You might be able to tell from the photo that Howard is decked out in full silver lamé. Even his pants. That stuff does not breathe and he must have been dying with the humidity. You wouldn’t know it though, he performed as one would expect. Full of energy, smiling, and projecting love and excitement and joy.

I could have flown to LA instead and seen this same show but with Andy Bell. I could have paid a lot more money and likely seen a much longer concert. And not been so sweaty at the end. I’m happy with my decision though. I prefer to see concerts in small venues and everyone there was a die hard fan. Or they wandered by and were drawn in by the music. It was a great vibe, an all around amazing experience, and I am grateful to these musicians for what they do.

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Treating today as though it was the last, the final show
Get to sixty and feel no regret
It may take a little time, a lonely path, an uphill climb
Success or failure will not alter it.
And do you feel scared?

I do.

But I won’t stop and falter.
And if we threw it all away,

Things can only get better.


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