When it comes to Howard Jones performing Human’s Lib and Dream Into Action at the Indigo2 in London, I expected the albums to come one after the other, in order, and with the track listing in the original order, but changing things up a bit, as Howard clearly likes to experiment given the new videos commissioned for each and every track, the show begins by bursting into Automaton and it sounds as gloriously fresh as it did 25 years ago. Elegy is still as haunting as ever, Bounce Right Back – missed off the LP and cassette versions but retained for CD – is a nice addition as it’s a track I haven’t heard as many times as the others and it’s so good to hear the original of No-one Is To Blame as I felt that was so superior to the version released as a single.
The Human’s Lib concert begins proper with the fabulous Conditioning and then, during Hunt the Self, it was most illuminating to see keyboard player Robbie Bronniman recreate the thumping sound later in the track with something that looked like a couple of unlit flourescent tubes, banging them into the ground to bring a flavour of something that, on the album, would’ve been recorded once and replayed over and over. Equality sees the background visuals featuring mime artist Jed Hoile, who every HoJo fan will remember accompanying him here, there and everywhere performing alongside on New Song, which closes the set.
It’s interesting that Howard says that the opening lines of Human’s Lib referred to “And lose my mind in drugs and drink” when I always thought it was ‘lust and drink’ which is what is sung here.
I’d love to see these albums performed live. It’s tempting to go and celebrate my 40th (egads! When did that happen?) by going to the Birmingham one. Who fancies going with me? :)
As for why the concerts aren’t in the track-listing order, Howard jokes of Human’s Lib during the VIP Soundcheck, “You’d get ‘What is Love?’ and ‘New Song’ at the start and… then my least favourite songs at the end.”
As well as altering the track listing, I did wonder why the albums were effectively played in reverse order of release, but I guess Howard wanted to end on his original high, the final track of the concert played being the iconic New Song.
You can also see my interview with the wonderful Howard Jones here.
Presented in the original 16:9 widescreen ratio, the quality of the print is crisp and clear with no problems on the disc, except for, at times, there being a slight, but distinct, lack of sync between the sound and the picture. I have no idea why this is but I don’t have it happening on any other discs and it doesn’t happen throughout the concert. The effect, when it does happen, is like when you see someone interviewed on a video screen on BBC News and the camera cuts to the presenter in the studio with the screen in the background, as there’s a delay with the video image in the studio.
Note that the specially-commissioned videos in the background don’t suffer any problems due to this as they don’t ‘beat’ along to the tune, so to speak. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
Audio-wise, the concert is presented in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Stereo. I went for the former option and it sounds 100% glorious. There’s some split-surround audience noises going on and the music sounds as amazing as it did back in the day. Also, Assault & Battery plus subwoofer equals “next door will soon be banging on the walls”.
The extras are as follows, with the first three on disc one and the rest on disc 2:
- VIP Soundcheck (27:18): Bursts of favourite tracks are heard while Howard explains the mechanics in strict detail. I didn’t understand all of the specifics, but I loved the end results 🙂
Hearing Equality blasting out in DTS 5.1 still brings the hairs up on the back of my neck to this day, while Hide and Seek retains the power to bring tears to the eyes.
- Robbie Bronniman interview (14:00): Robbie is the other man on keyboards who, linked up by MIDI, takes over from Howard when he goes on walkabout to sing around the stage. He takes us through the plethora of laptops and devices on his rig to get him through each gig including a duplicate of each device just in case there’s a breakdown along the way.
- Jonathan Atkinson interview (8:31): Jonathan plays the drums and he also goes into detail about his work, which is a little beyond me I have to say :)
It’s amusing when he’s asked what would happen if there’s a power cut. He replies: “It’s time for the saxophone solo!” and then adds that the computers can be rebooted in about two minutes so Howard would just joke with the audience in the meantime.
- Rupert Hine & Stephen W Tayler in the studio (11:12): The pair talk about working together to produce these two albums. It’s quite interesting, but Rupert Hine keeps talking way too softly sometimes, and as there’s no subtitles, I have to keep rewinding it to try and hear everything he says.
- Stephen W Tayler interview (31:55): Tayler starts by telling us how he was asked by Howard to create a surround remix of a track from the Revolution of the Heart album, at which point he suggested Howard add some visuals to it, too. As a result, later came Howard’s suggestion that Tayler makes some visuals for the songs in the HL/DIA concerts and then goes into great detail about putting this together.
- Making Of film (7:00): Mostly dialogue-free, this shows the digging out of the original master tapes along with the 5.25″ discs that accompanied them. Hope they’ve got something to play those on ;)
The menus are all static with no music, which is a shame as a bit of audio would’ve been a nice addition. That said, it just encourages you to play it all the more. There are no subtitles for the lyrics, alas. Chaptering is as you’d expect with one track per song.
Running time: 74/61 minutes
Filmed: November 6th, 2010
Cat no: DTOXDVD4
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Stereo
Widescreen: 1.78:1 (16:9)
Disc Format: 2*DVD9
Director: James Cumpsty
Event Producer: Howard Jones
Show visuals: Steven W Tayler
Howard Jones: Vocals and keyboards
Robbie Bronniman: Live Sequencing
Jonathan Atkinson: Drums
Lizzie Dean: Backing vocals
John Gibbons: Backing vocals
Rob Hughes: Saxophone
Vicky Matthews: Cello
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.