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Concert Reviews:
The heart of rock and soul beats strong for Huey Lewis & the News

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Monday, June 13, 2011

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- "Hello, Michigan," Huey Lewis said in greeting to the DTE Energy Music Theatre crowd on Sunday night (June 12). "Do you like soul music?"

Clearly he had forgotten where he was -- or was just being rhetorical.

Most likely it was the latter. Lewis and his band, the News, have been coming to Motown ("The scene of so many of our youthful indiscretions," he cracked) for more than 30 years and have drawn on some of the area's classic R&B heritage for some of its own multi-platinum blend of rock and soul. But while the heart of rock 'n' roll still beats strongly within the veteran band, it's latest visit to DTE was indeed a night when the soul side pumped a little harder, resulting in a 20-song, hour-and-45-minute show much more energized than a rote revue of the greatest hits.

That is, of course, because Lewis and company have a fresh album to pump -- 2010's "Soulsville," a superlative tribute to Memphis music that the group recorded at the legendary Ardent studios with one of Stax Records' original engineers, Jim Gaines (who also worked on the band's '80s smashes "Sports" and "Fore!"), co-producing. Justifiably proud of the set, Lewis and the 11-member edition of the News turned the main body of its show over to it, delivering nine of its 14 songs including a deeply grooving rendition of the Staples Singers' "Respect Yourself," brassy takes on Solomon Burke's "Got to Get You Off My Mind" and Eddie Floyd's "Never Found a Girl," a bluesy grind through Joe Tex's "I Want To (Do Everything for You)" and a buoyant romp through Rufus Thomas' "Little Sally Walker."

The traditional a capella number, meanwhile, dipped into 50s R&B for the Dominoes' sly and seductive "Sixty Minute Man."

Lewis and the News did not ignore its past favorites, either. "The Heart of Rock & Roll" kicked things off -- its mention of Dee-troit drawing a big cheer, of course -- while "Heart and Soul" and a smooth coupling of "I Want a New Drug" and "Small World" floated nicely alongside the "Soulsville" material. The encores, meanwhile, were given over to a combination of audience requests -- including "Hip To Be Square" and a Drifters-style revision of "Do You Believe in Love" -- and band choices such as "The Power of Love," the rarely played "Walking on a Thin Line" and the traditional closer "Workin' For a Livin'."

Lewis, who comically hawked copies of "Soulsville" and T-shirts that were available at DTE's souvenir stand -- was unperturbed by the relatively small crowd and even commented on it, noting that, "It doesn't matter. We do this because we love it." And on Sunday, the feeling was certainly mutual.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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