July 31, 2006
Meathead & Drunkpoet's Bitchin' Huey Lewis Adventure In New Jersey
As most of you already know, since we love bragging about it, "working" for the NIN Hotline has some pretty sweet perks. We get invitations to swanky awards ceremonies, all the stalkers we can handle, and more than one Hotline staffer has been personally insulted by Trent Reznor himself! Yes, we've had our share of good times, but none of them can even hold a candle to the sheer unadulterated asskickingness of this past Saturday night.
Not surprisingly, the Hotline has quite a number of famous people who write in to tell us how awesome we are. It's very flattering, although some tend to go a little overboard (we get it, Prince, thanks). However, none of us were prepared for the latest celebrity correspondence: HUEY FUCKING LEWIS! That's right, it turns out that Huey Lewis, of Huey Lewis and the News, is a huge NIN Hotline fan. And not only did he compliment us on our site, but he also offered us free tickets to any show we wanted! Holy crap (we didn't know he was still touring)!
Of course, Drunkpoet and myself are enormous Huey Lewis and the News fans, so we were absolutely flabbergasted that he actually took the time to acknowledge us. It just so happened that I was out living my exciting Meathead life of hot cars, fast liquor and hard women at the time the email arrived, but thankfully Drunkpoet was at home masturbating, so he immediately made arrangements for us to attend the Saturday night show (in the beautiful state of New Jersey, no less), the final stop of Huey's world tour with Chicago. Unfortunately, the News were the ones opening, which of course was total bullshit. Peter Cetera doesn't deserve to lick the sweat off Huey's sack. But that's beside the point.
It has been scientifically proven that it is impossible to drive anywhere in New Jersey without at some point getting hopelessly lost and afraid for your life. Therefore, even though the PNC Bank Arts Center was about an hour away according to Google Maps, we gave ourselves an additional eight hours to get there by leaving at 11:30 a.m. We arrived at the venue, sans hubcaps, about a half hour before the show was to start, which was just enough time to get wasted. Let's not kid ourselves; we all know that concerts just aren't as much fun if you're not hammered out of your gourd on Bud Light, even if it is Huey Fucking Lewis. By the time the lights went down and the band launched into the opening riff from "You Build Me Up," I had already thrown up twice! That's how I roll.
We hurriedly made our way through the crowd of mopey goth kids (fucking Chicago fans) to get as close to the stage as possible. The setup was nothing short of breathtaking. It was apparent that Huey puts as much energy and thought into the visual aspect of his show as he does the music itself. You simply cannot deny that the man is a professional in every sense of the word. Drunkpoet thought something about it seemed derivative, but I didn't see it. If anything, I'd say Huey was the one being ripped off. And besides, so what he borrowed a few ideas here and there? I was too busy rocking the fuck out to care about something as trivial as that.
(Click to enlarge)
Despite the fact that he is well into his 50's, Huey looked surprisingly fit and healthy, like a yuppie rock Rambo. He has clearly been spending a lot of time at the gym since I last saw him on the Fore! tour in '86. If it weren't for the old man jowls, he could have easily passed for 35. He threw himself right into the performance, and I could tell he was sincerely enjoying himself. There were a few moments when it came close to crossing that line into cheesiness, but he showed just enough class to avoid doing anything too obnoxious. At one point during "Small World," the bass player started trying to lead the audience in a "clap-along," but Huey immediately put a stop to it, saying "Cut that shit out, we don't do that in this band." It was very refreshing to see that the man has taste.
The night's setlist was packed with energy, the only slow moment being the moving acapella number "It's All Right." The mosh pit was one of the most intense I've ever seen anywhere. Huey was on fire. At the end of "Power of Love," he screamed "Can you fucking feel it??!!", to which the audience unanimously replied, "Yes, Huey, we fucking feel it!" Among the show's other highlights were blistering renditions of "I Want A New Drug" and "Heart of Rock & Roll," and of course "Heart & Soul," which always gets the crowd jumping. A strange thing happened during "Doing it All for My Baby." Drunkpoet and I were in the front row, singing along and having a good time, when we became blinded by the light reflecting off bassist John Pierce's guitar. It seemed unintentional at first, but soon it really started to look like he was doing this on purpose. Shortly afterwards, one of the crew members handed us some backstage passes. I guess this must have been some kind of secret rock star code for "Hey, you guys are cool!" Needless to say, we were pretty psyched. We waved to say thanks, and John winked back at us. Awesome!
After an extended, balls-out performance of "We're Not Here for a Long Time," the lights went down and the band left the stage, but the audience obviously wanted more. Chants of "HU-EY! HU-EY!" went on for about five minutes, until they re-emerged to thunderous applause and cheers. Without missing a beat, Huey & Co. tore right into "Back In Time," one of my personal favorites, followed by "Bad Is Bad." Then Huey gave a touching speech about it being the final night of the tour, and how he appreciated his fans coming out and supporting the band over the years. At this point, he announced that he had a special surprise for us. All kinds of thoughts raced through my mind as to what it could be. A brand new song perhaps? Unfortunately, the "surprise" was just Peter Murphy again. Oh well. At least their cover of "Final Solution" was still better than the original (like that's a huge accomplishment).
The last song of the night more than made up for it: the most incredible performance of "Workin' for a Livin'" I'd ever seen. A single spotlight shone on Huey as he played a lengthy, ultra-badass harmonica intro, and the audience began clapping along enthusiastically. Suddenly the lights came on and the band kicked in, and the crowd went nuts. It was a great way to end the show.
You Build Me Up
Some of My Lies Are True
I Want A New Drug
Doin' it All for My Baby
Power of Love
It's All Right
Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um
Heart of Rock & Roll
Heart & Soul
But It's All Right
We're Not Here for a Long Time
Back in Time
Bad is Bad
Final Solution (w/ Peter Murphy)
Workin' for a Livin'
Before long, we heard the crowd cheering again, which meant Chicago had taken the stage. We debated going back to watch their set, but ultimately decided that would be "kinda gay," so we hung out by the food stands instead and drank some more beer.
After the show was finally over, we headed backstage, hoping to experience one of the legendary Huey Lewis aftershow parties. Drunkpoet and I were both trembling uncontrollably with excitement at the thought of finally getting to "hang" with our idol. We followed the signs down a long hallway and ended up in a small, dimly lit room that smelled oddly of fish. A really awful cover of Billy Idol's "Eyes Without A Face" was emanating from somewhere. There were several bored-looking young women there who I assume were friends or family of the band members (how else would they have gotten backstage?), a couple guys from the News, and Aaron North. We weren't really sure why Aaron was there, but we went over and talked to him for a few minutes, at Drunkpoet's urging. I told him that even though I desperately miss Robin Finck and there's no way anyone could fill his shoes, I still found Aaron's guitar playing satisfactory for the most part. The funny thing was, he wasn't sure why he was there either. Well, I guess it wasn't so much "funny" as "mildly depressing."
We waited around for about an hour, picking at stale pretzels, sipping warm water, and smoking whatever that stuff was that was getting passed around, hoping for an appearance by Huey, but to no avail. Upon asking one of the other band members, we were informed that he had already left right after the show ended. I guess he thinks he's too cool to hang out with everyone else, so he's gotta run off by himself instead. Drunkpoet and I were both pretty pissed off about this, so we took out our frustration the best way we knew how: by trashing the shit out of the band's dressing room. Whoever had to clean up that place later certainly had their work cut out for them!
Afterwards, Drunkpoet kept going on and on about how Huey is such an asshole, but I had calmed down by then. I'm sure he's a nice guy, all things considered. Besides, what really matters is the music. I thought I'd seen some amazing concerts before, but nothing could have prepared me for this. Those other so-called "rock" bands could learn a thing or two from these guys. Huey's still got it!
We were a little sad that the tour was over, but we quickly got over it once we met up with some friends later that night. Now we're getting pumped for our next big show: MOTHERFUCKING JOURNEY!!!