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Tuesday, August 04, 2015
Read all about it: Huey Lewis and the News perform in Costa Mesa
My review and Drew A. Kelley's photo was originally posted on The Orange County Register Web site on Monday, August 3, 2015. Huey Lewis and the News
When: Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015
Where: Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa
Huey Lewis at Pacific Amphitheatre on August 2, 2015.
BY ROBERT KINSLER / CONTRIBUTING WRITER
While England exported a slew of cool, fashionable trend setters and hit makers in the ’80s (look no further than Duran Duran, A Flock of Seagulls, Adam Ant and Spandau Ballet), the U.S. generated a number of everyman successes in the unassuming likes of New Jersey’s Smithereens, Philadelphia’s Hooters and Virginia-spawned Bruce Hornsby and the Range.
Far more successful commercially than those acts was San Francisco-based Huey Lewis and the News, an ensemble that scored more than a dozen hits by combining rock, pop, blue-eyed soul and blues into an accessible sound capped by Lewis’ nice-guy persona that won over live audiences and millions of viewers on MTV.
Performing before a near-capacity crowd at Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa on Sunday night, Lewis, 65, and his eight-member band dished out a satisfying 100-minute concert heavy on nostalgia but packed with enough extras to elevate the night beyond a mere trip down memory lane.
Fans of Lewis’ 1983 masterwork Sports album didn’t have to wait long to get to hear something off the disc; “The Heart of Rock & Roll” served as a perfect opener with Lewis impressing with his strong baritone vocals and deft work on the blues harmonica. Johnny Colla also impressed with the first of many strong sax solos he would deliver across the 17-song set.
More soulful was “If This Is It,” showcasing the ensemble's sterling vocal harmonies. Other crowd-pleasing hits were featured throughout the night including a rollicking “I Want A New Drug” (with Lewis blasting powerfully on his blues harp) and the buoyant “Hip to be Square.” One of the best early offerings was a dynamic “Jacob’s Ladder,” which saw Lewis deliver his best vocals of the night while the members of the News showcased their outstanding talents – notably during an instrumental section that featured lead guitarist James Harrah and Lewis’ harmonica.
Lewis and company also performed several new songs, with the witty Chicago blues-styled “Her Love Is Killing Me” particularly effective.
An a cappella section of the concert allowed the group to tackle the Major Lance classic “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um,” and Bobby Day’s “Little Bitty Pretty One,” celebrating the influence of doo-wop harmony vocals on their sound. Likewise, Lewis’ own “We’re Not Here for a Long Time (We’re Here for a Good Time)” conjured up Memphis soul with emotional authenticity.
The most powerful cut played all night came in the encore, when the crowd seemed swept up as the musicians performed “The Power of Love.” The audience cheered when Lewis called out, “Can you feel it?” during the song, and Burns’ two guitar solos provided additional firepower.
The night ended with a speedy and spirited “Working for a Livin’,” perhaps the mantra for Huey Lewis and the News’ 37-year long-lasting career.