Music by Scott Martin

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1/24/2014: Huey Lewis and the News

I swear it's Huey Lewis
Stupid high-tech phone pictures

Continuing my efforts to see more live music in 2014, I had the opportunity to see Huey Lewis and the News a little while ago. There are undoubtedly plenty of reviews out there, so I’ll let them handle the gory details. This is just my remembrance of the night.

I’ve been a fan of Huey Lewis and the News since I was in junior high school. Put it this way: I have their very first record (Huey Lewis and the News) on vinyl.  And almost all of the rest of their records on cassettes.

Yes, it makes me feel *cough* old *cough*.

However, I felt right at home at the new Hard Rock “Rocksino” (a name that never fails to rankle me somehow, but not as much as the URL for their website does) in Northfield Park near Cleveland. Apparently Hellpellet and I are at the young end of the Huey-Lewis-casino-gig demographic. And I’m okay with that.

The tickets were a gift from Hellpellet, and we figured that we would get there, grab a bite to eat and a few drinks, maybe flush a paycheck down the slot-commode (or not) and see the show. We got there, so step one was complete. Check.

It being our first time there, we didn’t know what to expect. I kind of thought it would be like what I remembered from a trip to the Mountaineer Casino in West Virginia many years ago: a huge room with dark walls, floors and ceiling, filled with people sitting and smoking at row after row of slot machines.

I was pleasantly surprised with the Hard Rock. It was bright and vibrant inside, with kooky light fixtures all around. There was a well-designed smoking section outside, and the inside layout was reminiscent of Vegas. You know, intentionally confusing. But at least not lined up like ranks of robot bandits or something.

There’s the fancy steakhouse restaurant, a Hard Rock bar and grill, and a “bistro” that you can walk up to and get a sandwich. We were on the trail of some dinner when we realized that every dining option was crushingly packed, signaled by the sad look that the hostess at the fancy steakhouse gave us when we blithely said that no, we didn’t have a reservation.

Who knew that there were so many minions of el Huey and los News? We managed to find a spot at the bar in the Hard Rock and ordered some food.  It was actually pretty convenient, and shortly before our food arrived a couple at the bar graciously offered us their seats as they were leaving. Being fed and watered, we checked of item two on our list.

And just in time, too. The doors to the venue had opened and folks were filing in. There was an abundance of beer and wine to be had on both sides of the lobby. There were some tour shirts for sale (as always I think in hindsight that I should have gotten one, as if I need another fucking T-shirt), but I didn’t feel like elbowing my way to the merch table.

The venue was surprisingly big. The section we were in was filled with rows of folding chairs, and I’m not sure if there are actual permanent chairs in the room. But once we settled in it was pretty comfortable.

The band took the stage pretty much on time and launched into “The Heart of Rock and Roll” and everyone in the place went nuts, particularly the ladies that were right in front of us. I’m pretty sure that when the band got to the part about “Cleveland” those women were ready to toss their underwear on the stage, except that we were too far away.

Huey and that News cycled through a number of their hits, a couple a capella covers, and a couple full band covers. They even broke out a new song, “While We’re Young”, which was a pleasant surprise.

After a brief encore they came back out and did band introductions before launching into “The Power of Love”. Entertainingly Huey prefaced the song by saying, “This is kind of a new one for us… it’s only 27 years old.  And what can I tell ya… Who knew that when we wrote and recorded this song that we’d be playing it every single night of our lives?”

Huey and the News and the setlist
Huey and the News and the setlist

The band sounded tight, although as the night wore on it sounded like Huey’s voice was getting a little hagged out. I can sympathize. Sometimes I have a night where my voice is feeling fantastic and I can hit just about anything, and other nights I’ve just lathered up with Vocal-Eze and tried to get through.

His vocal stretching didn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of the evening, though. I was particularly pleased to see Sean Hopper still playing keys. He was an early influence on my keyboard playing, and I wish I could kill the Hammond the way he does. Guess I’ll just keep on practicing.

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