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Show Report: Howard Jones & Duncan Sheik at the Boulton Centre for the Performing Arts, NY 10/22/2010


Last Friday I attended Howard Jones concert at the Boulton Center or the Performing Arts in New York. Here are a notes from the show.

Duncan Sheik
imageDuncan Sheik was the opening act. He sang and played his own accompaniment on acoustic guitar with some stories in between. Note - Duncan collaborated on Howard’s song, Someone You Need, and performed joined Howard's 25th Anniversary concert at the indigO2. Of course I enjoyed the hit “Barley Breathing”, my favorite song was “The Tale of Solomon Snell” off of his latest album Whisper House. It was  was quite fitting for the Halloween season. Sheik’s acoustic set offered an excellent contrast and complimented Howard’s show well.

Howard Jones1st song

Howard performed in an Electric 3 piece band configuration with Robbie Bronnimann playing keys, doing live arrangements and sequence playback, and live mixing with Ableton Live; and Jonathan Atkinson on electronic drums.


The set list was an excellent mix of classic Howard Jones songs with newer songs from recent albums Revolution of the Heart and Ordinary Heroes mixed in.

One thing I really liked about this show was that although a lot of the songs were from Howard’s classic catalog, the show was not a “nostalgia act”. The arrangements were fresh and the performances were tight and had a vitality to them you could really feel.

Having Robbie doing the heavy lifting with Ableton Live and live mixing imagefreed up Howard up to focus on singing, playing and interacting with the crowd. It’s clear Howard is a seasoned artist who continues to take performance seriously and really connects with the audience. Jonathan Atkinson’s drumming also brought a human groove and interesting visual element to the performance.

My favorite song of the night was “Equality”. It started off with Robbie doing a real-time jam with all sorts of beat slicing using Novation Launchpad.

Later in the show, Duncan Sheik came back on stage and he and Howard did a version of Tears for Fears “Shout”.image

Taking a Bow

Live Rig Notes
imageAfter the show I got to meet and talk with Robbie Bronnimann about the show. He’s using Ableton Live running on a Mac with a Novation Remote SL MK II which he uses to play keyboard parts. He also uses the Remote SL as a controller for Live devices. He is using two Novation Launchpads to control mix, launch clips and scenes, and to control devices.

The entire rig is mounted on a custom tube system which is strapped to a V-Stand and can be packed into a flight case. Speaking of this, he mentioned that this is the only rig the entire band transport. Howard’s Fantom G8 and Jonathan’s drum kit – I believe it was a a Roland TD-20s V-Pro™ Series – are provided locally. So they show up and load their sounds prior to the show. Now that’ s a small carbon footprint.

Howard played all his parts from the Fantom G8. Patches either sounded either spot on from album versions, or where updated and freshened up but still worked very well.

Meet and Greet
Both Howard Jones and Duncan Sheik took time out after the show to do a meet and great for all attendees at the lounge at the back of the theatre which was really cool for the fans. After talking with Robbie, I did manage to get up there and was last in line and briefly met both Howard and Duncan who graciously signed my 25th Anniversary concert at the indigO2 DVD :^).

Great Show!
What a great night. The music and performances were fantastic and the crowd was really into it and often sang along. While this was the last show of this short American tour, I recommend you visit to stay informed about upcoming shows.



03_MarkMosher-Soundcheck-electromusic2010Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder, CO

Videos on The Making of Robbie Bronnimann's Upcoming Album "Rotations"


Robbie Bronnimann dropped me an email recently letting me know about a very cool series of videos he’s posting over at Sonic State.

First off, if you're not familiar with Robbie’s work, he’s a London-based composer and producer. He also has released music under the name dba with vocalist Shaz Sparks and acted as a writer/producer The Sugababes. He has also collaborated and produced the last few Howard Jones albums and has also toured with Howard (see this Modulate This Post on their Australian Tour).

Now Robbie is working on his own solo album project called Rotations and is shooting video along the way. The videos are great and show a behind-the-scenes view of how a seasoned producer works. I recommend you watch them all as Robbie does a great job explaining his studio and technology - and more importantly goes beyond technology and talks a lot about the creative process.

I’ve embedded the first 5 videos below to get you started. This is a work in progress so you’ll want to bookmark (Note they are posted in reverse date order). My favorite is Video 5 where he brings in Shaz Sparks and his 5 year old daughter  to record vocals. He then build’s up tracks using elements of their voices.

I'm really looking forward to Rotations!

Video 1: Robbie Bronnimanns Journey

Video 2: The Journey Begins

Video 3: Samples, Hits, and out of RAM

Video 3: Sound processing, recording the box


Video 4: Granular hits and transitions, DSI Evolver action  

Video 5: Recording Vocals


Mark Mosher
Electronic Musician, Boulder CO

Sonic State Behind the Scenes Video - Howard Jones, Robbie Bronnimann, and Laura Clapp On Tour in Australia

Howard_jones I found this series of vides via pedx1ng’s post on the Ableton Live forum, who found it on Matrixsynth. These videos by Sonic State cover Howard Jone's tour in Australia. I've re-blogged them here with annotation.

I've always liked Howard Jones's music and the fact that he's not all about nostalgia but is still writing and experimenting with technology in Live performance.

Also, my first exposure to Ableton Live was at a Howard Jones show back in the day of Ableton 3.0. Like now, he was using it to play scenes on the fly so he wasn’t locked into one arrangement for the whole song. After the show, I ran home and did some research and then bought Ableton Live 3.0 right away. Thanks Howard and Robbie and Ableton for changing the way I compose :^).

Video 1: In this first installment, Howard Jones has Robbie Bronnimmann leave a blizzard strewn UK and head for Australia and meet up with Laura Clapp in Adelaide Australia. He also talks about he now uses the Roland Fantom G8 to simplify his rig and work in a graphical way. He also discusses the polyphony and feel of the Fantom.

Video 2: In this video Howard Jones and Robbie Bronnimmann are in Perth Australia and explain the how they use Ableton Live, and bus powered devices (Motu audio interface, Novation Remote SL, Novation Nocturn) on their tour in Australia. Robbie describes who he uses Live to trigger sequences on-the-fly, do real-time FX processing on backing tracks and live vocals using built-in Ableton Live plugins.

Video 3: Howard Jones has Robbie Bronnimmann, Laura Clapp at sound check in Brisbane. A little taste of "Always Asking Questions". Laura discusses how shes uses TC-Helicon Voice Live and a Novation ReMote SL Compact to create harmonies and vocal effects on the fly. The also explains that he's his own warm-up band as he's doing a 30 minute acoustic set prior to the electronic trio taking the stage.


Mark Mosher

Videos of Laura Clapp & Robbie Bronnimann - Ableton Live, TC Electronics Interfaces, and Live Vocal FX Processing

Here is a post for the singer/songwriters. I spent a little time digging around YouTube this morning looking for videos of artists demonstrating technology they use to to perform live.

This first video is of Laura Clapp & Robbie Bronnimann playing live at Namm Show 2008. Robbie Bronnimann is a producer, remixer & recording artist from the UK who also is part of Howard Jones' band.

Robbie is using Ableton Live with a Novation Remote SL keyboard. Laura is using live vocal FX processing.

Next is a sales video of Laura demonstrating the use of the TC Electronics Voice Live to create harmonies on the Fly.



Mark Mosher