RENO — The first time I saw Huey Lewis was in 1989 at the end of rough period in my life. I was all alone in life and had forgotten about my love for live music I heard an ad for the Huey Lewis Show at Cal Expo in Sacramento. I bought one ticket and went by myself. The show started with a dark stage. The sound of a beating heart accompanied by pulsing lights filled the night air and the band kicked it off with “The Heart of Rock and Roll.” I was hooked. Live music was back in life. I felt like I had found a long lost friend.
Huey Lewis and the News’ sold-out show Sept. 26 in the Grand Exhibition Hall in the Silver Legacy started the same way, and it still works. Huey and his band may be older, but they still rock it like they’re in their 20s. Lewis seems a great guy to with. This is reflected in the fun and camaraderie that you see on stage. Most of these guys have been together since 1979 when the News formed.
It was an evening filled with recognizable hits covering 35 years like “My Other Woman,” “If This is It,” “I Need a New Drug” and “Jacob’s Ladder.” They also did their tight a cappella set in the middle of the show that always hits a home run with the audience. The set includes introductions and some cool choreography. From here they played a new song, “While We’re Young,” which was very good and well received.
The crowd was on their feet for most of the show, especially as it built to the end. The finale built with “Some Kind of Wonderful,” “Heart and Soul,” “But It’s Alright,” and finishing with “We’re Not Here for a Long Time (We’re Here For a Good Time).” After a few minutes of making everybody stomp and yell the News returned and encored with “The Power of Love,” “Do You Believe In Love” and wrapped it up with “Working for a Living.”
Huey Lewis and the News, according to its website, are: Huey Lewis (vocals and harmonica), Johnny Colla (saxophone, guitar and vocals), Bill Gibson (drums, percussion and vocals), Sean Hopper (keyboards and vocals), Stef Burns (guitars and vocals) and John Pierce (bass). The live show features their long time horn section of San Francisco Bay Area luminaries: Rob Sudduth (tenor saxophone), Marvin McFadden (trumpet) and Johnnie Bamont (baritone saxophone).
Since I had seen Huey Lewis and the News so many times before, I was inclined to pass on the show and I’m glad I didn’t. The whole band puts so much positive energy into their performance that you can’t help but have a great time at their shows. If you think about it, the fact that these guys (all touring bands, actually) do this night after night while on tour, and still make it fresh and fun for the audience — that’s an accomplishment worth acknowledging. The idea that just because I had seen them many times before so I shouldn’t bother this time, was foolish. I had a great time, and I’ll go see him again.
… and the beat goes on.
Nick McCabe is editor of the music website Front Row Photos. Contact him at Nick.firstname.lastname@example.org