The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

‘80s legend John Waite brings his pop-rock sound to Englert Theatre

The “Missing You” singer brought his “40 Years of Missing You Tour” to downtown Iowa City Friday night.
Singer+John+Waite+preforms+on+stage+at+the+Englert+Theatre+in+Iowa+City+on+the+evening+Friday%2C+Feb.+9.+
Kathy Le
Singer John Waite preforms on stage at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City on the evening Friday, Feb. 9.

Before the doors to the house had even opened, pop-rock fans were crowded in the Englert Theatre’s lobby on Friday, ready to see the popular 1970s and ‘80s British rock singer John Waite

In his 2021 documentary “John Waite: The Hard Way,” Waite said performing live is what he does best — a feat he proved that Friday night. 

The rocker’s career spans multiple bands where he performed and wrote hit songs including “Isn’t It Time” while in the band the Babys, and “When I See You Smile” while in the band Bad English.

The show he is touring, the “40 Years of Missing You Tour,” highlights all the greatest songs of Waite’s career, including more recent compositions. 

Even before Waite took the stage, concertgoers were sat and ready to rock. The crowd cheered during the opening act, which featured singer Frank Viele. Viele said he first played with Waite years ago, which is when the singer took a liking to him.

“He saw me backstage and I just thought that in itself was a dream come true. Then I started getting the phone calls, and I’ve played over 50 concerts with him across the country. I get to make new fans and I get to learn from a guy that’s the best, learning from the master,” Viele said. “It’s like sitting down with Aristotle.”

The Englert’s programming director, Brian Johannesen, told The Daily Iowan via email that Waite’s music has been instrumental in creating music that helped define the ’70s and ’80s.

“Coming out of England in the late ‘70s, John had a hand in shaping the new sound of pop rock that eventually dominated the ‘80s. His work with the bands the Babys and Bad English, in addition to his successful solo career, spanned across the Atlantic and created huge hits in both countries, further continuing the trend of America influencing England and vice-versa,” he wrote.

Johannesen wrote that the Englert prides itself in bringing in both artists who are changing the musical landscape and those who created it in the first place, as Waite did in the 20th century.

“To be able to perform at a high level for 40 years is no small feat, and we are happy to be a home for those artists who have dedicated their lives to their craft, whether it’s singer-songwriters, hip-hop artists, rock and roll bands, R&B singers, or, in John’s case, pop artists,” he wrote. 

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Waite’s appearance in Iowa City comes at the hands of Mammoth Live, a group of promoters that reached out to the Englert about having Waite perform. Johannesen told The Daily Iowan that he thought it would be a great idea. 

“I think, to a certain generation of Iowa City music fans, John’s voice is emblematic of many memories of good times,” Johannesen wrote. “His voice is unmistakable and, in particular, his huge hit “Missing You,” is like a time capsule to a specific era of pop music that people will jump at.”

Johannesen was correct in his sentiment. Though the crowd bobbed their heads along with opener Viele’s folksy-rock tunes, it became electric when Waite’s band stepped on stage. There was no introduction as the band immediately kicked into the 1982 hit “Change,” with Waite almost skipping onto the stage.

Waite did not address the crowd often, instead opting to jump from song to song. During the concert, people sang along and danced in their chairs. While some songs might have been written and released over 45 years ago, it was like they were brand-new hits on the radio to the audience. 

In the same vein, Waite’s performance reflected no signs of an artist considering slowing down after a long and successful career. The singer sang every song in its original key, hit every note, and jumped around the stage while doing it. 

Brent Wood, Waite’s guitarist and bandmate, said it’s as if no time has passed from the beginning of the rocker’s career. As a child, Wood saw Waite perform and the artist immediately became one of his favorites. Nothing has changed from that day, he said.

“I played with a lot of people, but he is somebody that I’ve always just respected and he’s 71 years old still singing like he’s 21,” Wood said. “And not only that, but his energy and inspiration to do better every night [is impressive]. And … he’s at standard tuning, hasn’t changed any tunings at all.”

The crowd appreciated the rest of the band mates as well as the lead singer. Every guitar and drum solo earned whoops and whistles. 

But Waite had every audience member hanging on his every word. When he pointed at people, they screamed. When he waved for more people to sing along to “When I See You Smile,” they did. And when he demanded the audience stand up during the song “Back on My Feet Again,” they immediately rose.

For audience member Bobbie Joe Swanson, seeing Waite in concert was a dream she’d had for years. Swanson drove to Iowa City from outside of Des Moines to see the concert after being a Waite fan for multiple decades, and the show Friday was her first time seeing him.

“He’s just got such a soulful voice,” Swanson said. “ I remember in the 2000s listening to him on my mp3 player. I’ve been a big fan for a while. When he came to town, and I was like, I’m going to go.”

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About the Contributors
Kate Perez, Senior Reporter
she/her/hers
Kate Perez is a third-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in English and a Writing Certificate. Prior to her role as a Senior Reporter at The Daily Iowan, Kate was a News Editor, a Digital Producer, and an News Reporter. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Kate has held internships at USA TODAY, Iowa Public Radio, and the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
Kathy Le, Photojournalist
(she/her/hers)
Kathy Le is a fourth-year student at The University of Iowa majoring in 3D design and Art History. This is her first year working as a photojournalist of Daily Iowan.