October 28, 2015 Huey Lewis and the News Electrify NYCB Theatre at Westbury, NY 10-22-15
As multi-platinum recording artists, North California’s Huey Lewis and the News have sold well over thirty million records. In addition, they have attained nineteen Top 10 singles, as well as won numerous awards, including a Grammy in 1986 for Best Music in a Film, several American Music Awards during the mid 1980s, and a Brit Award in 1986 for the Best International Group. Their unique blend of Blues, Rock, Soul, and even a little Jazz made the band one of the hottest Pop Rock acts to dominate the ’80s, and over three decades later Huey Lewis and the News are still going strong. While the band has released new material sparingly over the past decades, 2001’s Plan B and 2010’s Soulsville, they continue to tour year after year, and 2015 has been no different. With a Summer run that included a billing with Jimmy Buffet, Huey Lewis and The News are back at it this Fall with select shows around The States.
With all that said, after making an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live the previous evening to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the movie Back To The Future, Huey Lewis and the News arrived at the NYCB Theatre at Westbury in New York on Thursday, October 22nd. Greeted by the venue filled to almost full capacity with a fanbase that was clearly excited and ready to rock the night away, it was set to be a night full of fun. Marking their second visit to the Long Island area in less than three months, joining Lewis on stage as the News was Johnny Colla (guitar/sax/vocals), Bill Gibson (drums/vocals), Sean Hopper (keys/vocals), John Pierce (bass), James Harrah (guitar), Johnnie Bamont (baritone/tenor sax), Marvin McFadden (trumpet), and Rob Sudduth (tenor sax).
With fans already cheering, the News came out on stage with a heavy, rocking heartbeat, and soon after, Lewis ran out to join them. On their feet, the dancing in the aisles began immediately with the playing of hit song “The Heart Of Rock & Roll” from 1983’s classic record, Sports. Staying in that era, they played “If This Is It” and “I Want A New Drug.” Many were still singing and dancing along before Lewis happily said, “Hi Westbury, we are so glad to be back! We’ve been here many times before and we plan on coming back!”
Pleasing the audience with some favorites to start, Lewis introduces the next song with, “Now we have something new for you! This song isn’t even recorded yet but will soon be, sometime next year, we hope you like it!” With that, they played “Your Love Is Killing Me,” which took the audience right in as they began to clap and scream toward its end. Before going back to the familiar hits, Lewis said, “We want to take you to this little place we know, filled with lots of Rhythm,” and they rocked out “The Rhythm Ranch” from Plan B. Stopping for a brief moment as the horn section, also fondly known as The Sports Section, left the stage and the remaining band members played the song “Jacob’s Ladder” from 1986’s Fore!
With The Sports Section returning to the stage, they play a song that really got the fans on their feet, especially being the day after October 21, 2015, fondly known by fans of the Back To The Future movie series as Back To The Future Day, going into “Back In Time.” The whole band clearly enjoying the energy that the fans were giving them and Lewis was swaying along with The Sports Section as they whaled away to the feel good tune. Once the fans liveliness calmed just a tad, Lewis asked, “Are you with us so far?” The audience let out a huge “Yea!” Lewis replies, “That’s right! That was the answer we were hoping for!” Pumped up, he then asked that the house light be brought up so they could see everyone, then remarked, “You surely don’t lack any enthusiasm here tonight!” He then asked how many in attendance are seeing them for the first time this evening. Amazingly almost half of the audience replied by raising hands with cheers. Taken back, Lewis replied, “No way … I am shocked and surprised!” A man in the audience then yells out, “I want to have your baby!” Lewis playfully said to him, “Thank you, now stay back there” as he laughed. The vocalist then continued, “Seriously, I’m shocked, we have been playing for over 37 years and yet new people are still coming out for the first time. We are so happy to have you here tonight and we welcome you!” Continuing to be warm with the audience, he said, “Right now, as is our usual custom, we are going to do a couple of a cappella songs for you.”
While preparing the stage for the next couple of songs, Lewis took this time to introduce the band and provide some history to everyone. Starting with Hopper, he said, “We’ve been together forever, we were even in a band before this one.” Then Harrah, “He’s a wonderful musician and an all around great guy.” Then Colla, “This guy is incredible and he plays many instruments, tonight playing Sax and Guitar for you.” Then Gibson, “This is the Captain of the ship on drums! We go as far back as being in 7th and 8th grade together, but seriously, don’t ask what year that was.” Then lastly Pierce, “Rounding out our rhythm section, he is not only talented but always our best dressed.” At this point all the band members, including The Sports section, were in a single line and Gibson had only a snare drum in front of him. Lewis encourages the audience, “This is an audience participation number, and don’t be shy Long Island! Are you ready?” Clapping to the beat, the audience was ready as they joined in singing to the Major Lance song “Um Um Um Um Um Um Um” from the band’s 2004 DVD Live At 25. As the song came to an end the band froze in place as the fans roared away. Lewis said, “Not bad, you were pretty good, you seem to be in a participatory mood, you want to sing another with us?” While they were cheering, 1994’s “Little Bitty Pretty One” began, and once the song was over, with much gratitude Lewis said, “Thank you all so very much.”
With the band returning to their places and going back to full instrumentation, Lewis took this time to talk about the next song. “Now we are going to do something truly dangerous, another new song. It’s not me, the band wants to play it for you and we want to keep them happy (as he laughs). After the song is over I would like to ask that you clap for us, it will make us feel good and you will feel good, it’s a win win situation.” He continued with, “There are just a few people here tonight that are my age and I think you will appreciate it.” They played “While We’re Young,” another song that will soon be recorded. The audience had no problem clapping and cheering for the new song so Lewis asked, “You liked the new one, right?” and he was pounded with an overwhelming reply of “Wo’s and Yea’s.”
Mixing things up, they brought everyone back to the well known hits as they played “Heart And Soul” off of Sports and Lewis had some more fun with the fans as he encouraged them to clap along with him mid way through the song. Asking them again at the end of the song, “Are you still with us?!” The audience swiftly relied, and Lewis asked them several more times as if he just could not get enough of their enthusiasm. Having everyone fully attentive, they rounded out the set with “But It’s Alright” from Four Chords & Several Years Ago and then “We’re Not Here For A Long Time (We’re Here For A Good Time)” from Plan B. As the song was coming to an end, the band was still playing, Lewis asked, “Did you all have a good time tonight?” With an overwhelming response from the audience, Lewis took a bow and then left the stage followed by the band upon completing the song.
These Long Islanders were not ready to leave yet as they chanted “One more song” and “Huey” as many were waving their cell phone flashlights. After several minutes Huey Lewis and The News returned to the stage, greeted with deafening cheers. Lewis said to them, “Thank you so much! You make us feel like the New York Mets getting ready for the World Series!” Fully amped up by the comment, everyone began chanting, “Let’s Go Mets!” Lewis respectfully replied, “I’m rooting for you guys!” He then continued with, “Thank you all very much! How’s about a big hand for our own Sports Section?” He then introduced the horn section, starting with McFadden, saying, “He’s been with us over 20 years, he left us for a bit to join shows on Broadway, but we are happy he’s back.” Then Bamont, “Always a pleasure to have him with us, such an awesome player” and lastly Sudduth, “He’s a northern California boy moved to New York City where he came to play Jazz. Why New York City, well you know what they say, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere.”
Once everyone was back in place on stage, he asked, “What do you want to hear next?” With so many responses from the audience, Lewis said, “Okay I know what you want!” He continued, “Here’s another new song, it’s only about 30 years old. This one’s for you Westbury!” With everyone in the theater up on their feet, they played “The Power Of Love,” another well-known hit from Back To The Future. They then wrapped up the encore with two hits off of 1982’s Picture This, “Do You Believe In Love” and “Workin’ For A Livin’.” Prior to playing the last song, Lewis stated, “It’s time to roll the sleeves up because we are doing this last song for the working man,” and the audience was ready as they were dancing in the aisles. With a heartfelt “Thank you” from Lewis, the band assembled in a single line and took a rightful bow to a energized audience.
After performing an amazing show, the audience was truly satisfied. Every song was done to perfection and Lewis’ vocals were spot on. The show was so full of the energy that Huey Lewis and the News are best known for. Their next live appearance will be back in New York again on New Years Eve at The Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn. They will then be off to New Zealand in January and back to the United States in February, so be sure to see them live soon, it is a show not to be missed.