Rant Of The Day THIS RANT 19/05/99

Rant Of The Day is where I get to mouth off about whatever I feel like for however long I like. Theoretically, I'll update my whinge/opinion piece every weekday; in practice, maybe not so often.

Nik Kershaw versus Howard Jones: The concert wars

In his April 1999 review of Nik Kershaw's superlative album 15 Minutes for Q, Stuart Maconie makes the following handy observation:

It was never going to divide a nation's youth like Slade and T.Rex or Oasis and Blur but you were either a Howard Jones or a Nik Kershaw person. Sensible folk opted for Kershaw, whose songs were odder and better. Then they were gone like the ra-ra skirt.

This last point is not true: both Nik and Howard remain active, releasing albums and performing tours. But the general spirit of the remarks is accurate enough. I've always been a Nik Kershaw man myself, and I jumped on the opprtunity to see him live earlier this year, but I'm fond enough of Howard to have also checked him out during my recent London trip. (Yes, here it comes again.) Given that they both performed at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, some kind of comparison was inevitable.

I have to allow for my bias -- I know all Nik's stuff by heart -- but I definitely got much more out of the Kershaw concert. He was a committed, gutsy live performer, with a punchier sound in concert than on record, and he played a neat mix of new stuff, old stuff and obscure stuff, throwing in plenty of eyebrow gestures as an added bonus. His solo acoustic version of 'My Oxygen' was magic; so was his pumped up version of 'Dancing Girls'; so was the highly syncopated version of 'Don Quixote'; so was the witty, snappy 'Billy'. So, indeed, was the rest of it, and the crowd responded in kind. Rarely, if ever, have I enjoyed myself at a concert so much.

In comparison, Howard was more of a mixed bag. He was highly professional; in fact, I think he was too professional, encouraging the crowd to sing along at least twice as much as he should have. And he massacred 'What Is Love?' by throwing in too many guitars, and ran around on stage wearing a singlet. I didn't have a proper familiarity with his reggae-tinged new material, but since the title track of his new album uses the line "let the people have their say" in the chorus, I probably don't need to say anything else. Overall, there was something a bit too knowing about the whole enterprise, but to be fair, most of the the audience loved it.

MAILClick here to contact Gus

HORGo back to recent rants

GUSWORLDReturn to Gusworld Central