VALLEY CENTER, Calif. _ I attended a Huey Lewis and The News concert on Saturday and was pleasantly surprised to learn that 1.) Huey Lewis is still alive 2.) The News accounts for approximately one-third of all professional saxophone jobs in the United States 3.) I was the only man in attendance who did not look like he was thinking about how sweet Huey Lewis music sounds on his pleasure boat. This is mainly because I do not own a pleasure boat, and if I did, I would not play Huey Lewis music. I would only play the theme from Shaft.
We arrived at Harrah’s Rincon Casino on time, but missed the opening song. We missed it because the security guards at Open Sky Theater would not let my girlfriend Jen enter with her digital camera, which she mainly uses to photograph summer salads, and is in no way powerful enough to capture perfect photographs of Huey Lewis that she can then sell to TMZ or the Russian mafia or whomever concert organizers imagine people sell Huey Lewis photos to on the black market.
Good boyfriend that I am, I ran the camera across the casino floor like a modern Pheidippides, through a sea of smoke and into the parking garage and back to my car. Then I ran down three flights of stairs, back across the casino, secondhand smoked another pack of cigarettes, rejoined the thankful girlfriend and walked into the show already in progress. So, great job, concert organizers. You prevented a fan from taking an amateur photo of Huey Lewis at your venue and posting it on her Facebook and Twitter pages. Instead we took low-resolution photographs with our cell phones. If anyone wants to know how Huey Lewis looks these days, I am happy to report that he is now one inch tall and appears to have just emerged from an alien spacecraft.
The 90-minute concert, which I did enjoy, was broken into five parts, each entertaining for different reasons. The band opened with songs from its forthcoming album Soulsville, which comes out Nov. 2. Soulsville is a collection of covers from Stax Records and the Memphis soul era. I am no professional music critic, and I will prove that to you right now by telling you that the songs from the new album, and I don’t mean to show off as a writer here, but get ready for it – sounded good. If you like Huey, or that sound, you will probably want to buy Soulsville because – and you can feel free to quote me on this one record company people – it is good.
The band also performed its “greatest misses,” a run of songs that included “I Want A New Drug,” which I always thought was a hit, because most greatest misses don’t chart at No. 6 and get stolen by Ray Parker Jr. Huey and some of the guys from the band sang a little a cappella, and they nailed it, according to the sea of 60-year-old women who squealed and swayed and fought the urge to remove their tops. Then the band did its greatest hits, but not all of them. “We can’t really get to all of them,” Huey quipped, as if to say, that would be far too many songs to play. True to his word, the band did not play all of its hits, skipping “Hip to Be Square.” Then, in what might have been the least-mysterious lead-in to an encore ever, Huey Lewis and The News walked offstage without playing “The Power of Love.”
Like they weren’t going to come back and play “The Power of Love.” Right. The upscale, older crowd would have torn the theater to shreds Russian-soccer-riot style or, lacking the physical strength to do so, successfully filed a lawsuit to order Huey Lewis and The News to return to the Open Sky Theater at a later date to play “The Power of Love.” Huey Lewis and The News not playing “The Power of Love” in concert is like The New York Yankees dressing for a home game at Yankee Stadium and not taking the field, or Francis Ford Coppola ending the movie “The Godfather” after Sonny gets murdered, or Letterman doing a Top Nine list or Paula Deen cooking with ingredients that take into account regard for human life. It can’t and shouldn’t be done.
Personally, I got the feeling Huey would rather not play “The Power of Love,” mainly by the way he told the audience he would rather not play “The Power of Love.” I am paraphrasing a bit here, but this was the gist of what he told us: This song is 25 years old, and if you would have told us when we wrote it that we would have to perform it every time we play live … we would have let Foreigner record it instead.
Then Huey Lewis and The News played “The Power of Love” and the crowd went wild. It’s a great song. It’s why we were there – to hear that song and sing along to it. The Power of Love – it really does make one man weep and another man sing.
If only someone would invent a machine so Huey Lewis could travel back in time to un-write the song. But then that time machine would need a theme song.
And the circle of Huey Lewis’s anguish continues for eternity.
UPDATE: This column has been linked to by hln.org, a Huey Lewis & The News fan/wiki site. Some of the commenters did not like my column. You can read their thoughts, which they are perfectly entitled to, here.