RETRO FUTURA @ The Pacific Amphitheater – 07/19/2017 -

RETRO FUTURA @ The Pacific Amphitheater – 07/19/2017


Howard Jones @ Pacific Amphitheatre -- 7/19/2017In only its second stop on a 26 city tour, 6 acts from the 1980s headlined by Howard Jones invaded the Pacific Amphitheatre at the Orange County Fair on Wednesday July 19th.  Dubbed the RETRO FUTURA Tour (formerly known in previous years as the ‘Regeneration Tour’) the star studded lineup also included English Beat, Modern English, Men Without Hats, Paul Young and Katrina (best known as Katrina from Katrina and The Waves).

While half of the lineup is best known as ‘one hit wonders’, the vibe on this warm summer evening at the fairgrounds was of retrospective fun and celebration of a decade that brought us an seemingly endless catalog of pop music.  With quick stage change outs and a strict venue curfew, the 6 acts powered quickly through the show—finishing up in just over 3 hours.  The crowd was comprised mainly of middle aged couples, a select few went as far as to dress up for the evening—complete with 80s hair and leg warmers.

Katrina and Paul Young each shared a house band and were both supplied with roughly 12 minutes of stage time—allowing them 3 scheduled songs each, needless to say they didn’t need printed set lists.  Each held out their biggest hit for their final song, with Katrina getting the early arriving crowd out of their seats to dance along to “Walking On Sunshine” and Young playing his 1985 classic and #1 Billboard tune (and Hall & Oates cover) “Every Time You Go Away”.

Men Without Hats @ Pacific Amphitheatre -- 7/19/2017A four song set from New Wave outfit Modern English followed that included their 1983 hit “I Melt With You”.  The band dressed all in white clearly were enjoying the moment and got the most of their set, lead singer Robbie Grey still has the moves and stage presence—holding his own during this 80s revival tour.

Following a brief stage changeover, Dave Wakeling and his bandmates from English Beat brought a fun loving set of ska/reggae music to the Pac Amp stage.  Opening with “Mirror In The Bathroom”, Wakeling didn’t waste any time this evening with anything but top hits from not only his English Beat catalog but also from his side project General Public.  A quick 7 song set was chalked full of radio friendly hits from the 80s such as “I Confess”, “Tears Of A Clown”, “Tenderness” and the 1994 #1 dance hit “I’ll Take You There”.  Before leaving the stage and supplying high fives to fans in the front row, Wakling and his 10 piece band supplied the crowd with “Save It For Later”. Wakeling is one hard working dude, his band continues to tour consistently and is in top shape still to this day.

Men Without Hats were next up, sharing only 3 songs with the audience. The band (originally from Montreal, Canada) is best known for their international hit “The Safety Dance”. “Pop Goes The World”, a lost hit that had limited success was used as their opening song.  Founding member and lead singer Ivan Doroschuk was as eccentric as ever with his dance moves, including bustin’ out his infamous ‘Safety Dance’ choreography during the band’s final tune of the night.

English Beat @ Pacific Amphitheatre -- 7/19/2017The clear headliner this evening was Howard Jones who is still considered one of the most influential synth pop artists of all time.  The English-born singer/songwriter and king of the keytar is a touring fool.  The 62 year old is best known for having 15 Top singles from 1983-1992.

Also saddled with a limited set time, HoJo made certain to pack all of his largest hits into his abbreviated 9 song set list.  “Like To Get To Know You Well” was first out of the gate this evening, getting each of the roughly 5,000 fans in the crowd out of their seats. They remained standing for the next 45 minutes and danced along to “No One Is To Blame”, “Everlasting Love” and “Life In One Day”.  He commanded all parts of the stage, venturing out with his white Korg keytar on many of the songs.  He had accompaniment from four backing musicians, including a guitarist—the first one I have noted used in a live show in quite some time.

Jones finished his main set with “New Song”, which as he noted—was his first single ever.  He steamrolled through the hits but made certain to take time in between songs to interact with the spectators, he is widely considered a positive force in music.  He supplied slightly different treatments to certain songs, giving each a fresh feel.  After a brief stage exit, HoJo returned for one final song prior to curfew—the uplifting classic from 1985 “Things Can Only Get Better”.

Jones will release a deluxe career retrospective compilation titled ‘Best (1983-2017)’ on July 28th and will be available across all outlets.  His headlining gig with Retro Futura continues through mid-August.

Paul Young Photo Gallery

Katrina Photo Gallery

English Beat Photo Gallery

Men Without Hats Photo Gallery

Modern English Photo Gallery

Howard Jones Photo Gallery