“I know, I know,” Huey Lewis told the crowd at his Eccles Theater show Thursday night, “You want to hear the new stuff. You’re tired of the old stuff.” Of course he was joking, but I saw something I’ve never seen at a show before—and I’ve been to plenty of them—a standing ovation for a new song. The song, “While We’re Young” includes the lyrics, “Tell the kids we’ll be out late/and we’ll need time to recuperate,” which should tell you something about both Lewis and his fanbase.
It was very clear that it was Mom and Dad’s Night Out at The Eccles. From the woman who wouldn’t sit down in the front row, to the balding man in the middle of the orchestra seating who kept motioning for people to stand up—everyone in the theater was just happy to be there (and away from their kids on UEA weekend).
Of course, this makes sense. Lewis was ubiquitous in the ’80s, and that’s when this crowd was in the prime of their lives. Plus, Lewis and the band make feel-good music. These were people who wanted to feel good again, as evidenced by the all of the standing ovations (for a half dozen songs, including the opener “The Heart of Rock and Roll”), singing along and dancing in the aisles (complete with air guitar in many cases —and in my very special case, a man who mimicked every instrument in the horn section just for me).
Who needs a new drug when the old ones seem to work so well?
And as he played through a set list containing all of his hits (seriously. I could name them all, but trust me, he played the one you wanted to hear), a handful of covers and a couple of new songs—one thing was clear: Salt Lake loves Huey Lewis and the News.
That enthusiasm is what carried Lewis through the show. His voice struggled to hit high notes, but his energy—he dragged the mic stand across the stage, he danced (sometimes with band members, sometimes alone), he played the harmonica from time to time and he charmed the audience with his sardonic wit—and that was enough to make those high notes not seem quite so important.
The low point of the show had to be a continual attempt from the audience to communicate directly with Lewis through shouting from their seats. No one cares you have a mutual friend, guy. No one cares about how many times you’ve seen Huey Lewis before, as it turns out, not even Huey Lewis himself. And don’t yell out requests, you guys, the setlist already exists. Lewis did a good job of shutting down the yellers, but it was still a nuisance to the rest of us
Salt Lake, let’s have a little social decorum, please. To borrow from Mr. Lewis and the News: It’s hip to not yell like an idiot.