AFP Picture this: A woman in Mill Valley, California is walking on a thin…
- Posted on Aug 6th 2010 12:00PM by Pat Pemberton
Douglas Mason, Getty Images
During a show at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif., the band started out with four new songs -- actually covers of Stax records -- which will appear on an upcoming album. While the obscure tracks -- no familiar Otis Redding or Sam and Dave tunes here -- fit the HLN repertoire of feel-good, soulful party music, the crowd was eager for the hits, some even blurting out, "Old songs!"
Knowing the crowd was craving oldies like 'Workin' for a Livin' and 'The Heart of Rock & Roll,' Lewis joked, "I know you people are sick of the old stuff. But we have to play some of the old stuff tonight."
The crowd erupted in cheers, but Lewis again toyed with their emotions.
"Don't get excited," he said. "We're going way back to the very beginning."
Meaning more songs they wouldn't recognize. Digging deep into the group's history, the band played what Lewis called its "greatest misses" -- songs that should have been hits but weren't.
"We know that it was the record company's fault," he jokingly said as he launched into the band's first written and recorded song, 'When I Say I Love You.'
After another unfamiliar song from the band's past -- one that once got them booed off the stage, Lewis admitted -- the Bay Area group kicked off its first recognizable tune of the night, 'I Want a New Drug,' on the seventh song of the set list. After performing 'Small World,' Lewis playfully gauged the audience.
"We played a couple you recognized, didn't we?"
As the familiar aortic beat of 'Heart of Rock & Roll' began, members of the packed crowd enthusiastically rushed the stage, as if to confirm every longtime rocker's worst fears -- that they really do only want to hear the old stuff. But Lewis didn't seem fazed or annoyed, mugging for the dancers near the stage and screaming with outstretched arms like an excited frat guy about to dive into a pool fully clothed.
Backed by a bold, feel-good horn section, Lewis added his trademark honky tonk harmonica to the party. Meanwhile, his vocals sounded just like the singer who scored a string of hits in the '80s with the exception of two songs -- 'Heart and Soul' and 'Power of Love' -- both requiring high vocals that proved problematic. Not that it mattered -- this crowd wanted the oldies, with or without a couple of flat spots.
As he introduced 'Power of Love,' Lewis acknowledged the need to give 'em what they want.
"We wrote it 25 years ago, which is not really that long for us," he said. Then, with a tone that suggested a good-natured roll of the eyes, he added, "Who knew when we first wrote it and recorded it, we were going to have to play it every night of our lives?"
As the familiar keyboard intro began, the crowd went wild, overjoyed to hear the hits.