Huey Lewis & the News can’t cut it as arena rockers in Vancouver

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chris cameron photo

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 26, 1986

By Steve Newton

Huey Lewis has a great rock and roll voice, he writes fairly catchy tunes, and his band–though nothing fancy–plays those songs well enough to get by. But when Huey Lewis & the News try to make it as a big arena-rock band–as they did at the Pacific Coliseum on Sunday (December 21)–they just don’t have the goods.

The 11,500 fans in the audience didn’t seem to mind, in fact they sounded more than grateful during Huey’s 90-minute set. But the impression was that you could have just played Huey’s hit album, Sports, and gotten the same response. Performance-wise, the News are boring And when you spend time and money on a concert, you expect to see a show, not a half-hearted rendering of last year’s hits.

And Huey did them all, much to the delight of the crowd. Thankfully, he had brought along the great Tower of Power horns to add punch to songs like “Heart of Rock and Roll”, “Power of Love”, and “I Want a New Drug”, which went over particularly well.

“We make music the old-fashioned way,” declared Huey at one point, “we play it.”

After performing the latest single from his new Fore! album, “Hip to Be Square”, Lewis left the stage, returning for an encore with the words “Okay, let’s rock!” Unfortunately, the encore included his worst song ever, the mega-sucky “Stuck With You”. As if to make up for it Lewis ended the night with one of his best, “Workin’ for a Living”.

Opening for Huey was Bruce Hornsby  & the Range, who’ve come from nowhere to score big with the number one single “The Way It Is”. Lewis was responsible for giving Hornsby that extra push he needed to get heard, and judging from the music he played Sunday, Hornsby is a real find. Though he hasn’t quite found a voice of his own–at times he sounds too much like Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, or Huey himself–he sure has the songs to find it with. “Down the Road Tonight” and “”Every Little Kiss” sounded like real hits, not to mention “The Way It Is”.

Hornsby played keyboards for most of the songs, accompanied by two guitars, bass and drums, but on a couple of tunes he brought out an accordion. “When was the last time you saw an accordion in a rock band?” he asked.

Good question.

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2 responses to “Huey Lewis & the News can’t cut it as arena rockers in Vancouver

  1. I realize this comment is way too long in coming, but you made your first mistake by attending an arena concert, because arena rock mostly sucks. Your second mistake was thinking, somehow Huey could, even remotely, pull it off. I respect Huey Lewis as a musician, but I find his music lackluster…

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