“Is the Heart of Rock and Roll still beating?” Wendy from Roadside Wonders asked me via Twitter. (Click HERE if you would like to follow me) Well Wendy, the answer is a definitive YES. In what seemed like an impossible task, Huey Lewis and The News rocked the packed State Theatre in New Brunswick last night even while failing to play some crowd favorites.
The diverse audience who came out to see Huey Lewis and The News included older folks, young teenagers with their parents, and thirty-somethings who wanted to time travel back to their youth. But not everyone was bouncing around and dancing like I thought they would be. Sure everyone was clapping, but for some reason whenever I sit in a balcony section of a theater, no one ever wants to stand up and get crazy. Of course, the level of craziness is a lot more subdued at a Huey Lewis concert than in comparison to say…a Slayer concert. Moshing is basically non existent, except for the people in the middle rows just trying to get out for a pee break.
I’m spoiled because I’ve been to so many concerts where everyone is standing and losing their minds. From KISS, Motley Crue, and Bon Jovi to Prince and Lady GaGa, people are always standing, dancing, and acting nuts. The crowd wasn’t as loose for Huey Lewis and the News until they started pulling out some of their hits. After performing a few tracks from their 2010 album Soulsville, a tribute to the artists and music of Stax Records, the Lawrenceville NJ High School graduate said that he knew we were probably all getting worried that they weren’t going to play any hits. Everyone started to laugh and clap because they knew it was true. Huey then assured us they would definitely play the big hits.
In addition to cuts from Soulsville, Huey also threw in some deeper tracks from their hit albums, which I thought was cool, but since I had not experienced a Huey Lewis and the News live show I would have preferred hearing more of their popular singles. I wouldn’t have minded hearing more obscure tracks if I had previously saw them in concert a bunch of times.
Some of the big songs they eventually whipped out were “The Heart of Rock n Roll,” “I Want A New Drug,” and “Working For A Living” I knew “Back in Time” wasn’t an option since it’s mostly remembered by fans of Back to the Future. They did perform “Power of Love,” which Huey prefaced with the fact that back when they wrote and recorded the song he had no idea they would be playing that song at every show for the rest of their career.
During their encore Huey polled the audience to see what songs they wanted to hear. A bunch of people were yelling “If This Is It” including my Dad and a boisterous woman in front of me, but to no avail. I thought “Hip to Be Square” would’ve been a definite staple on the set list, but no such luck with that one either. He took a request from a guy in the first row who was begging for “Bad is Bad,” which wouldn’t have been my choice, but I was still cool nonetheless. For the several months leading up to the show all I wanted was to hear them perform “Pineapple Express,” one of their best songs in years. I must have been smoking some Super Red Espresso Snowflake because if Huey didn’t play one of their early hits “Do You Believe in Love,” he sure as hell wasn’t going to play a track that was only featured during the credits of a stoner movie starring Seth Rogen and James Franco.