Photos/review by Thomas S. Orwat, Jr.
Lewiston, NY – The 1980’s chart topping, hit machine known as Huey Lewis and the News, performed to an enthusiastic, music loving sold-out crowd on a humid, overcast Independence Day eve. This event was part of the “Tuesday at the Park” summer concert series at the beautiful Artpark outdoor facility. This has become the place to be in WNY on Tuesday evenings for music fans of any age, with great legendary live acts at a ridiculously affordable price.
Huey Lewis and the News hit the stage a few minutes after 8pm, and performed a solid 90 minute, seventeen song set that included almost all of their many hits. The evening kicked off with “Heart of Rock n’ Roll,” and the party started. The 61 year old Lewis was in great shape, looking like he hardly aged at all since the 80’s. His band, “The News,” consisted of original members Johnny Colla – guitar, saxophone, Bill Gibson – drums, Sean Hopper – keyboards, joined by former Alice Cooper and Y&T guitarist Stef Burns, John Pierce on bass, and a three piece horn section.
Midway through the set a rousing rendition of “Walking on a Thin” was dedicated to the many military veterans in the audience, getting an early start to celebrating the holiday that they help make possible.
After that, Lewis asked the audience, “How many of you are have seen us perform before?” Most of the audience applauded and then he asked “How many are seeing us for the first time?” Again a big reaction, Lewis then proceeded to explain that part of their performance has always includes some doo-wop style a capella. The band then gathered around the four 50’s style microphones which were brought onstage, and the band proceeded with “Little Bitty Pretty One.” This brought the crowd to their feet and dancing for the remainder of the show.
Lewis then did a lengthy introduction of the band, and then brought up two members of the 70’s Ithaca, NY band – King Harvest. Lewis stated that when he was going to Cornell University in Ithaca, that “King Harvest is the only band that I knew from Ithaca that ever had a top hit. So these guys were like heroes to me.” Lewis and the News then proceeded with the King Harvest hit, “Dancing in the Midnight” sharing the vocals duties with his two guests.
Afterwards, the huge Lewis hit “Heart and Soul” followed, which featured a tasty guitar solo compliments of Steve Burns. Lewis and the News then left the stage. After about five minutes of applause, they returned with a powerful, energetic three song encore.
“Everyone clap your hands, this was a hit 26 years ago,” declared Lewis as the band kicked in to “Power of Love.” Another mega hit, “Do You Believe in Love” followed. The show ended with Lewis announcing, “This next song is a song for all the working folks during these tough times, and it’s called “Working for a Living,” which featured another soulful and bluesy harmonica solo.
Huey Lewis and the News may not be on the charts anymore, but they still know how to put on a great show and rock the masses.
Special thanks to Maria Costello for setting us up for this show.