Huey Lewis in Concert and a Brand New Phobia

Huey Lewis and the News
Well, it was a dream fulfilled for me on Tuesday night when I finally got to see Huey Lewis and the News live in concert. Huey Lewis was one of the voices of my childhood. I lived in a very pop-culture, movie and music-laden home growing up. Huey was ever-present in music videos, on the radio, and in his cameo in, "Back to the Future". (I've written about him a few times before, THIS is the article about him that seems to draw the most, "I know exactly how you feel!" emails.)

Well, they sounded amazing. I can now check him off of a list of people that I was kind of nervous to see, but who sounded amazing anyway! Nobody wants to go see a childhood hero and be disappointed, and I'm happy to tell you that this was not the case. His voice was incredible, though when I think about it now, I wonder how hard it is for him to prevent losing his voice. He plays a lot of shows and has been on tour for a very long time. Along with the News, he sounded exactly the same.

Our original plan was to sit in the stadium seating, because it was free. Free is always good. But something strange happened to me as I started to climb the aluminum stands and I swear...it was real. I started having a panic attack. I couldn't hear much of anything. I climbed anyway, because I felt like I was just being silly and that it would go away. My hands started sweating and I was having a hard time articulating my thoughts. It was tough for me to sort out too, because I don't have a problem with heights or with crowds. The closest way I can think of to articulate it is to say that it was the aluminum. Something about the way the stands were registering every tiny little movement of every person sitting and standing on them freaked me out. I don't have an issue in concrete bleachers, again, it wasn't not the crowds or the height. It had something to do with the specific material the stands were made of. Jake immediately noticed that something was up and walked me back down to ground level.

When I think about it, even back in high school, I had a problem trying to sit in bleachers. I have this immediate need to flee as quickly as I can and would sit as low on them as I could. It's mind over matter though and I hate to add such a strange quirk to my repertoire. Of all things to have a visceral reaction to...this from the woman who can fly in planes and ride in roller coasters until she drops. And BLEACHERS are going to get me? Too weird. (Anyone ever heard of this before?)

Well, here's the coolest part of all. Jake decided to check out ticket prices for track seating and it just so happened that they only had five seats left, all right next to each other. And there were five of us. So we ended up with great seats on the track, although in all honesty, there wasn't a bad seat in the house. That's why I was so excited about the great free seats! Oh the irony...

When he came out to thunderous applause, he immediately played some new songs, that I quite liked. I'll buy his new album. Of course. He also played some "oldies", including, "Shake, Rattle, and Roll" which was kind of cool when I thought about how heavily it was featured in the movie, "Clue". I'm sure that's not why he did it, but my brain was busy cross-referencing away without my permission. (I was also recalling Spinal Tap's jazz fusion night at a theme park.)

Then he threw in, "I Want a New Drug", the song that Ray Parker Jr. was encouraged to "take inspiration from" very liberally for the Ghostbusters soundtrack after Lewis refused to lend it. I love that song. Since this was a chill portion of the show, I was also really hoping for, "Doin' It All For My Baby" and, "Happy To Be Stuck With You" as well. But no dice.

I'm also displeased to tell you that the audience didn't want to stand. I HATE being at concerts where nobody wants to stand up. I mean, come on! It's Huey Lewis!!! It was frustrating to say the least. There were a few people trying to get the crowd up, and I tried to stand several times, but only got glares from annoyed people standing by. So I gave in and sat back down, hating the feeling of having to restrain myself when really I just wanted to go into super-fan, sing-along mode.

Then he did an acapella set with the News, which was lovely. Then he literally said, "Okay, enough screwing around." and launched into an epic set of hit after hit. THEN people stood up. Finally.

"Heart of Rock and Roll" was especially awesome, it was during that song that I made the most eye contact with my sister and husband. You know those great little concert moments where it's far too loud to try to say something to the people you're with, but you just HAVE to make some form of, "Isn't this awesome?" contact with them. So we turned to each other and sang lyrics together and just generally geeked out as hard as we could.

After about an hour, he made his bow and left. But we all knew what to do. The crowd in the stands stomped their feet and started chanting for an encore and those of us with track seating screamed as loud as we could for a few minutes. It's a funny little routine I bet they have to just sort of go along with, Huey and the News I mean. They know what we want to hear, they know when they take that first set of bows that it's not real. It's just funny the little intricate song and dance that a musician and an audience will go through together.

So of course, he comes back and does, "Power of Love". OF COURSE. Which was incredible. Then he did, "Workin' For a Living" and he just knocked it out of the park. Part of me feels kind of guilty as a super-fan for dooming musicians to play the same songs over and over again for the rest of their life. Then, when the first few chords of those hits start playing and the crowd responds and I see the faces and enthusiasm of the musicians playing and singing...well, then I feel not so guilty. Maybe they're just really good showmen, but it looked to me like Huey Lewis and the News were really enjoying themselves. It's a very cool thing to be in a crowd of people loving the music, singing along, and just being in that giant wave of happy.

This was, hands down, my favorite concert ever (at least tied with Duran Duran). This summer has been a bit lackluster for Jake and I as we've moved some travel and Park Geek plans to the fall. So it's been one of the most stagnant summers ever. But now we can remember it as, "the summer we say Huey Lewis and the News". Not too shabby for me. Not too shabby at all. Huey Lewis still brings the music magic (and the 80's  nostalgia) and if you're a fan, don't hesitate to see him in concert.

Jumbo-Tron Huey!