The Venue at Horseshoe Casino, Hammond, IN
Friday, June 13, 2014
With a three-and-a-half decade history, Huey Lewis & The News continue to be a regular fixture on the road, although their time in the studio could never exactly be labeled prolific. Technically speaking, the San Francisco-based band’s recorded just nine studio albums across its entire duration (two of which were stocked with covers), though even with a relatively limited catalogue, cumulative sales have surpassed the 30 million mark.
In fact, the record responsible nearly one third of that statistic was recently re-released as the Sports: 30th Anniversary Edition (Capitol), a double disc split between the remastered original album and a live disc, which also serves as the centerpiece of this summer’s excursion. With all that in mind, it was only fitting the 63-year-old Lewis and his long time backing band launched with its rousing lead track “The Heart Of Rock And Roll,” sending the nearly sold out audience at Hammond’s Las Vegas-like The Venue at Horseshoe Casino right back to the golden age of MTV as the song’s heartbeat sound effects kicked in.
With everyone on their feet, the veteran kept the working class rock n’ roll firing on all cylinders, delivering fellow album cuts like the charming doo-wop throwback “If This Is It” and the charging “I Want A New Drug” with the News (and the Sports Section Horns) running like a well-oiled machine. And the hits just kept on coming throughout the free-flowing 100 minute night, from a nimbly extended “Jacob’s Ladder” off 1986’s multi-platinum follow-up *Fore!* to 2000’s sultry cover of Smokey Robison’s “Cruisin’” (with Solomon Burke/previous News session singer Daunielle blowing away original duet partner Gwyneth Paltrow).
Besides playing with precision, the backing cast demonstrated just as tightly knit vocal harmonies during a customary a cappella set, allowing several of their old time influences to be highlighted (the Curtis Mayfield-penned/Major Lance-popularized “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um,” Bobby Day’s “Little Bitty Pretty One”). When everyone plugged back in, the grooves continued with the brand new blue-eyed soul sounds of “While We’re Young,” fellow Sports smash “Heart and Soul,” J.J. Jackson’s funky “But It’s Alright” and the less familiar but nonetheless feisty 2001 original “We’re Not Here For A Long Time (We’re Here For A Good Time).”
Even though Lewis quipped he didn’t anticipate having to play “The Power Of Love” every night for the rest of his life when it was initially recorded, the Back To The Future favorite once again hit the spot as everyone sang along at the top of their lungs. It was followed up by an instrumental blues jam that left enough room for everyone to solo, while officially wrapping with the harmonica heavy “Workin’ For A Livin,’” yet another testament to the front man’s fiery form and the band’s ongoing agility in bringing the past alive with improvisational vigor.
– Review and photos by Andy Argyrakis