Live Review: Howard Jones, Kim Wilde

15 November 2016 | 2:20 pm | Mac McNaughton

"Respectful tribute was made to the recently departed Pete Burns."

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The lucrative retro tour market has of late delivered as many triumphs as painful embarrassments. However some acts skilfully maintain an evergreen quality, still commanding shows full of magic. Synth-pop icon Howard Jones is one, with a reputation for being a class act having survived three decades with nary a tabloid headline to detract from a respectable run of '80s hits.

Backed by a live drummer and 'tech' guy, Hojo's ten-song set drew almost entirely from first two albums, Human's Lib ('84) and Dream Into Action ('85). The rigorous Pearl In The Shell, Life In One Day and debut single New Song (in which the keytar was the star) were balanced by the aching Hide & Seek, bittersweet global tearjerker No One Is To Blame and Everlasting Love (from Cross That Line). Only Human Touch from last year's Engage album alerted casual observers to the fact that Hojo is still very much an active recording artist embracing a hi-nrg whuppin' that sounded like Electric-era Pet Shop Boys going all Blade Runner. What Is Love's synths drove giddily like the Indy-500 Howard proudly sported on his T-shirt and jacket before finishing on Things Can Only Get Better, raved up even further on the final kick by a take on Eric Prydz' own rehash.

Respected horticulturist Kim Wilde is another magical '80s heavy hitter whose dignity remains confidently intact. Clad in black denim, between songs she twitters like Phoebe's mum in Friends and her lipsticked kisser beams like no frown has ever besmirched it. Touring once more with a six-piece band including brother Ricky and niece Scarlett Wilde, as well as Perth's own Dishan Abrahams on guitar (on loan from Kylie Minogue's band), it was hard not to feel part of a family get together. Rocking out four of her earliest singles off the bat reminded us how boisterously her career started. Her cover of Bee Gees' If I Can't Have You and tracks Keep Me Hangin' On and the gracious You Came enveloped The Astor in pure joy. Brandishing a totally fabulous top hat and cape to belt out Dead Or Alive's You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), respectful tribute was made to the recently departed Pete Burns, before the inevitable airing of ultimate '80s anthem, Kids In America.

Returning to the stage, Jones joined Kim (with Ricky and Scarlet) for a tender cover of The Beach Boys' God Only Knows. The '80s may have been the decade fashion chucked up on, but tonight showed there were some survivors.

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