Monday, August 24, 2009

Kings of Leon concert review: LA

Photo by: Kelly Swift
My review originally appeared in the OC Register

Kings of Leon, The Whigs
Where: The Forum, Inglewood
When: Aug. 22

Foreign success is perfectly well and good, but attaining fame and fortune on your own turf is much sweeter – something Kings of Leon waited six years to discover. The band currently has a platinum-selling album at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart (Only By the Night) and a single (“Use Somebody”) in the same position on the Hot 100 tally. These guys’ presence is so pervasive on pop and rock radio right now that three random channel surfing experiences turned up all three recent hits.

During an electrifying, sold out concert at The Forum on Saturday, the band was clearly reveling in the fruits of their labors and biggest Los Angeles area gig to date. Singer/guitarist Caleb Followill (who has admitted to such extreme nervousness that he often has to vomit before taking the stage) seemed more relaxed than at the smaller Nokia Theatre/L.A. Live last October.

At various points in the show, Caleb told the Inglewood audience, “this is the rare occasion when all of us up here are having a good time” and “you don’t realize how proud you make this little band from Tennessee feel. God bless you all.”

Formed a decade ago in Nashville, the family quartet (three brothers and a cousin) put out debut album Youth and Young Manhood in 2003. It immediately found favor in the U.K. and Australia and spawned several chart singles. The same held true for subsequent efforts Aha Shake Heartbreak and Because of the Times.

Kings of Leon headlined large festivals and venues abroad, yet despite high profile tour opening stints with U2, Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan, the band’s swampy, Southern fried garage rock music only managed to draw a cult following here.

Truth be told, Caleb’s indecipherable drawl and the Allman Brothers-meets-The Strokes sound was moderately interesting at best. Minor sonic experimentation on “Times” was a step in the right direction. The atmospheric sound came to full fruition on the exemplary “Night.” One of 2008’s best albums, the collection saw Caleb emerge as a more confident singer/songwriter and people like U2 and My Morning Jacket a run for the money.

After nearly a year on the road, the Followills didn’t display any signs of tour fatigue in L.A. Caleb’s voice was soulful and raspy as ever. The old, dilapidated Forum has a reputation for poor acoustics, but the sound couldn’t have been better when Kings of Leon held court there.

Nathan’s tribal drums and eerie guitar squalls from cousin Matthew on “Be Somebody” (the first of nine songs performed from “Night”) got the 100-minute, 21-song set off to a frantic start. The supercharged vibe continued on the propulsive “My Party,” where Matthew did some fine slide work and Nathan added backing howls.

Fans on the packed general admission floor pumped their fists in approval. Fittingly, electrocardiogram-type images were shown on multiple projection screens (if anything could get your heart pumping faster, it’s Kings of Leon). The artsy camera work must have frustrated those in the upper sections whenever the band was pictured from behind, framed in half or in grainy camera phone-styled shots.

A quick, spiraling sequencer riff reminiscent of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” served as the intro to the high-flying acoustic guitar-driven shuffle “Fans.” Matthew played gorgeous reverb-drenched guitar on the haunting “Revelry,” then played the instrument with his teeth (!) on the spacey “Closer” as spotlights pointed on the crowd.

There was a dirty Led Zeppelin crunch during the hard rocking “Crawl.” Caleb’s shrieking amid “Charmer” was even more intense live. I rarely enjoy bass solos, but Jared’s inventive patterns on the latter and elsewhere were welcome.

Before a transcendent “Sex on Fire,” dispatched mid-set, Caleb quipped: “I’m sure none of you want to sing along now. They play this song way too much around here. I apologize; I was on pills when I wrote it” (recovering from a shoulder injury). The crowd almost drowned out the band on the chorus.

Other standouts included Caleb’s effective delivery on the passionate “Cold Desert,” bolstered by The Edge-inspired lead guitar effects (Matthew didn’t move around much onstage, but sure coaxed some intriguing sounds out of his guitars) and soaring main set closer, “Use Somebody.”

Athens, Ga. trio The Whigs opened the show with a spirited 45-minute set of raucous alt-rock. “Like a Vibration,” from latest album Mission Control, brought to mind early Elvis Costello and “In the Dark” boasted a careening sound along the lines of Foo Fighters. Lanky front man Parker Gispert could hardly contain his enthusiasm, doing high kicks, jumping on the drum riser and squeezing feedback from his guitar at every turn (“Right Hand on My Heart,” the psychedelic rock freakout “Already Young”).

Kings of Leon, The Forum, Aug. 22, 2009
Main set: Be Somebody/Taper Jean Girl/My Party/Molly's Chambers/Red Morning Light/Fans/Revelry/Closer/Crawl/Four Kicks/Charmer/Sex on Fire/The Bucket/Notion/On Call/Cold Desert/Use Somebody
Encore: Slow Night, So Long/Knocked Up/Manhattan/Black Thumbnail

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friendly Fires interview

A version of my story originally appeared in IE Weekly.

Who needs social commentary?

Not England’s Friendly Fires, whose exuberant songs provide a welcome diversion from the world’s problems.

“I think we’re all fed up with bands that have this penchant for writing banal lyrics about petty things going on in people’s lives,” says guitarist Edward Gibson, from a Toronto tour stop. “You’re living all this crap anyway; you don’t need to be reminded of it. Just lock yourself away and try to escape while listening to the music.”

The young indie dance rock trio’s self-titled debut album is inching toward gold certification back home and was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. Although Kasabian, The Horrors, Bat for Lashes and Glasvegas provide stiff competition, Gibson says a Friendly Fires win next month would see them throw “a massive party. I don’t think you need to use that prize money too wisely or sensibly.”

Recorded DIY-style, on a shoestring budget in the home garage of singer/keyboardist/bassist Ed Macfarlane’s parents, the sound is quite different from the musicians’ previous group as teenagers: a post-hardcore outfit inspired by Fugazi and Dischord Records acts. “We wrote instrumentals that went on and on. We probably enjoyed playing them more than anyone listening to it.”

When Friendly Fires formed straight out of college in 2006, they took musical cues from German techno, Prince, shoegaze and classic pop. “We wanted to include the same kind of intricacies [as before],” notes Gibson, “but shave them down to the best bits and core hooks.”

Stateside, selections from the album have been heard on TV (“Gossip Girl,” Nintendo Wii Fit and PlayStation Gran Turismo 5 commercials) and radio (KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic). The cool Ibiza beach drumline video to new single “Kiss of Life” has received airplay on several MTV channels.

A deluxe expanded CD+DVD version - due out Sept. 1 at digital merchants and a week later at regular retailers - will include that song, the band’s favorite remixes, outtakes and a concert filmed at London’s Forum.

From the airy synths and frantic Afro-Beat rhythms of “Jump in the Pool,” funky “In the Hospital” (think Prince meets Talking Heads) and frantic “On Board” - where singer/keyboardist/bassist Ed Macfarlane yelps in falsetto - to the percolating New Order-esque “Strobe” and lush “Paris” (featuring backing vocals by Au Revoir Simone), the highly infectious songs are guaranteed to get your feet moving.

Such was the case last spring at Coachella, when Friendly Fires, rounded out by drummer Jack Savidge, drew a packed crowd in the sweltering Gobi tent. Macfarlane did spastic moves and got right down in fans’ faces amid a memorable afternoon set that easily rivaled the headliners.

“Sometimes it’s best not to have a vast stage or do that sort of Iron Maiden ‘back and forth’ thing,” notes Gibson. “It’s horrible if you’re crammed in like a tiger in a little cage though. You need a bit of freedom.”

Each time an opportunity to play the main stage at a major festival comes along, Friendly Fires make the most of it. Multiple percussionists and Samba dancers with colorful headdresses joined them onstage at Reading 2008.

“It’s like nowheresville there, where [U.K. TV show] ‘The Office’ is set. To have a Carnivale brought to Reading is something very different…we don’t do it all the time, because it can get a bit gimmicky. But every now and then, it’s good to bust out a full troupe.”

Earlier this month at Lollapalooza, a live horn section was added to the mix. “We can’t [always] afford to fly the same people around with us, but we’ve got good hookups all across the globe,” explains Gibson. If fans are lucky, those connections will come through at the more intimate Pomona gig as well.

Friendly Fires plays the Glass House in Pomona on Sunday, the El Rey in L.A. on Monday and Cinespace in Hollywood on Tuesday.

Monday, August 17, 2009

"Bandslam": Music movie worth seeing

I just got back from watching the new film "Bandslam" and have to say it's one of the best things I've seen this year. Directed by Todd Graff ("Camp") and starring Lisa Kudrow (TV's "Friends"), Vanessa Hudgens ("High School Musical"), Aly Michalka (Aly & AJ, Disney Channel's "Phil of the Future"), it has a charm and true to-life sensibility that's rare in teen-centric flicks these days.

Kudrow portrays a single mom raising her teenage son (played by the excellent Gaelan Connell - a relative newcomer who had bit parts in "Chocolat" and "A Dirty Shame"). Connell's character is key to the film: a misfit type who has an encyclopedic knowledge of "cool" rock music and doesn't fit in at high school. After a move to Jersey, he suddenly finds himself managing a student-led rock band.

Filled with smart dialogue that doesn't pander (no vulgarity) and music references (Connell's character makes a trip to the shuttered CBGBs club in NYC and frequently posts to the website of idol David Bowie), "Bandslam" was partially filmed in Austin (including scenes shot at South by Southwest!). There is also an amazing soundtrack (Nico, Wilco, Bowie and much more). DJ Junkie XL did some incidental music and a major singer makes a cameo.

I'd call it a cross between "School of Rock" and "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist," with elements of '80s John Hughes movies.

Michalka does a fine job as the cheerleader/singer, Hudgens is surprisingly good as the low-key bookworm and Kudrow prompts a few laughs as a quirky, yet believable parent. It's Connell who shines here though, making you identify with his predicaments. He's definitely one to watch.

Shamefully, "Bandslam" debuted at #13 at the national box office over the weekend, making a paltry $2.2 million in wide release. Don't let this one be deemed a flop. Go see it now!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Veteran country duo calls it quits

Last week, after hearing that Brooks & Dunn were splitting up next year after a final "Greatest Hits" album and tour, my initial reaction was "no big loss."

While I typically cover rock and alt-rock music, I began writing about country more after landing my previous job at the Daily Bulletin & Sun because the genre is big out here in the IE. So I started getting into a lot of acts. These guys weren't one of them. I never thought their songs were especially memorable. How they've sold millions of albums, scored massive hits and won awards up the wazoo is beyond me (I feel the same way about Rascal Flatts - I'd rather hear nails scratching on a mirror - and the equally arrogant/tuneless Toby Keith).

I covered the Stagecoach Fest in Indio, CA a couple years ago and Brooks & Dunn headlined one night. I watched them for awhile and got so bored that I decided to go and eat instead.

Flaming Lips concert pick of week


When it comes to trippy sonic excursions, The Flaming Lips have the market cornered. Hatched out of Oklahoma City in 1983, singer Wayne Coyne, bassist Michael Ivins and various bandmates put out several indie albums rife with acid rock, noisy jams and psychedelic insanity.

After hooking up with a major label, The Lips notched their first top 10 alternative/minor pop radio hit in 1994 (“She Don’t Use Jelly”). Then came symphonic gem The Soft Bulletin. Masterful 2002 disc Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots went gold and netted a Grammy (2006’s acclaimed At War with the Mystics won two more).

Earlier this year, atmospheric Yoshimi tune “Do You Realize?” was deemed official rock song of Oklahoma. Keeping with the parameter expanding nature of their music, the band has also done high profile parking lot and boom box sound experiments and a concert tour where fans listened on headphones via Sony Walkmen.

You just never know what to expect from these guys’ shows. Past live jaunts have seen Coyne roll over the crowd in a big plastic bubble (Sugarland recently co-opted this move), utilize bizarre hand puppets and odd projection techniques as people frolic onstage in animal costumes.

Recently, The Flaming Lips put out a digital EP previewing the forthcoming double album Embryonic, due in October. Fellow Sooner State natives Stardeath and White Dwarfs, featuring Coyne’s nephew Dennis on vocals, have collaborated with The Lips on a cool new cover of Madonna’s “Borderline.”

The Flaming Lips, Ghostland Observatory, Stardeath and White Dwarfs at the Fox Theater, 301 S. Garey Ave., Pomona,, Tuesday, Aug. 18, doors open at 7PM, $40.

(This Calendar pick originally appeared in Inland Empire Weekly)

Joe Henry album review

Joe Henry
Blood From Stars

Joe Henry is hard to pin down. Starting in the late ‘80s, his early albums were steeped in alt-country and acoustic folk. After working with celebrated producer/artists T-Bone Burnett and Daniel Lanois, Henry’s music veered in a more atmospheric direction. He became a sonic architect, deftly using samples and loops, touching upon blues, funk and jazz rock and luring horn legends like Don Cherry and Ornette Coleman into his studio. 1996’s stark Trampoline featured Helmet guitarist Page Hamilton, while 2001’s Scar, included the tango “Stop,” which sister-in-law Madonna refashioned into her hit “Don’t Tell Me.”

In the interim, Henry segued into an acclaimed production career (Solomon Burke) and his tunes were sought by daring film directors. The cinema is often intertwined with Henry’s creative process. He builds albums in terms of themes, character and scope. Past efforts like 1999’s stellar Fuse have had a “calm before the storm” quality. That definitely holds true on Henry’s majestic 11th studio release Blood From Stars.

It opens with a stately piano instrumental performed by Jason Moran and is followed by the Dixieland jazz of “The Man I Keep Hid.” Here, Henry sings highly personal, yet witty lyrics (“somebody used my mouth and laughed out loud”) and lets teenage son Levon take the reigns on saxophone. Marc Ribot provides beautiful Spanish guitar on “This is My Favorite Cage,” while haunting highlight “Death to the Storm” is propelled by a gospel chorus courtesy of Chocolate Genius (Bruce Springsteen’s “Seeger Sessions”).

Elsewhere, a New Orleans vibe takes over “Bellwether,” the jazzy reverb rock on “Suit on a Frame” recalls Radiohead’s experimentalism and the plaintive closer “Coda” finds Henry turning in more dramatic vocals than usual. Truly evocative, this is tailor-made for the NPR and coffeehouse set.

Brendan Benson album review

Brendan Benson
My Old, Familiar Friend

Before becoming a quarter of successful alt-rock group The Raconteurs with Jack White & Co. (where he co-wrote all the songs), Brendan Benson spent a decade toiling in a solo career that was critically acclaimed, but only moderately successful. No wonder he once said in a Raconteurs interview: “I got sick of myself; this is the band I always wanted.”

Now that White has jumped to another side project (The Dead Weather), it’s finally time for the world to discover what a supreme talent Benson is alone. Produced by Gil Norton (Foo Fighters, Pixies), fourth effort My Old, Familiar Friend finds the singer/guitarist engaging in his trademark power pop, in addition to psychedelia, New Wave and Motown strains to excellent effect.

Everything kicks off with “A Whole Lot Better,” a frenetic tune about indecisiveness in a relationship that combines a prog rock synth line, handclaps and organ with a melody that recalls early Elvis Costello & the Attractions. The same vibe encompasses “Misery” and “Poised and Ready.”

Benson gets a little darker on the paranoia song “Eyes on the Horizon” (key line: “I’m convinced underneath that black hair/there’s a listening device planted there”), propelled by an Eric Clapton melody (think “I Can’t Stand It”) before swelling into a sugary McCartney-esque chorus. Orchestral strings are at the fore during “Garbage Day,” where Benson has second thoughts about consoling a friend. Among the other standouts: the jaunty “Don’t Wanna Talk” and dense hard rocker “Borrow.”

Friday, August 7, 2009

Michael Jackson tour rehearsal footage

Now that Sony Music and concert promoter AEG Live have come to an agreement about editing all that Michael Jackson rehearsal footage at Staples Center prior to his death, I'd say they better get cracking.

If they wait until late fall for a theatrical release and live album (when competition is fierce), the interest is sure to have diminished heavily. Then again, demand for all things Jackson will probably remain high for a long time. We'll see.

Director John Hughes' impact on '80s music

When I heard that John Hughes had died yesterday, I immediately flashed back to high school. The soundtracks to several of the director/producer/screenwriter's films were an integral part of my teenage years.

In addition to having a knack for capturing what it was really like growing up (some of us totally identified with Jon Cryer's Duckie character in "Pretty in Pink") in the '80s, Hughes and his music supervisors also had a keen ear for what was then considered hip music to help move the stories along. It was something his peers in the movie industry often lacked.

Many musicians can thank him for propelling their careers.

Who can forget Simple Minds' chart topping "Don't You (Forget About Me)," from "The Breakfast Club"? Or Oingo Boingo's popular title track to "Weird Science"? I always dug the tunes from "Some Kind of Wonderful," with Flesh For Lulu's alt-rock hit "I Go Crazy," plus tracks by the JAMC and Buzzcock Pete Shelley.

Then there was the best of them all: "Pretty in Pink."

I remember seeing the movie at a neighborhood cinema one weekend, walking home and thinking about OMD's yearning "If You Leave" and the scene it played in. The Psych Furs' title track briefly put them on the mainstream pop music map. Add New Order's "Shellshock" and incidental music, the Smiths' "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want" and Echo & the Bunnymen's "Bring on the Dancing Horses" and you had a true classic.

Many of the so-called Brat Packers and other young actors in Hughes' 1980s films are still active in the movie/TV/theater world today: Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy, Jon Cryer, Matthew Broderick, Alan Ruck and Anthony Michael Hall, to name a few.

What are your favorite songs from Hughes' movies?

Steve Miller Band concert review

Photo by Kelly Swift/For the Orange County Register
A version of my review originally appeared in the Register

Steve Miller Band
Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa
Aug. 1

Steve Miller Band fans got a lesson in music history at a packed Pacific Amphitheatre on Saturday night. And that’s a good thing.

Tunes by bluesmen - both obscure (Jesse Hill, K.C. Douglas) and not so obscure (Robert Johnson, Jimmie Vaughn) - were spotlighted, alongside seminal soul and rock ‘n’ roll artists (Sam Cooke, Otis Redding Bo Diddley). The wide-ranging Costa Mesa show also included plenty of Miller’s classic rock radio staples and pop chart hits from the 1970s.

Few people are better versed in those genres than Miller. The master guitarist was taught by instrument innovator Les Paul and cut his creative teeth in Chicago blues nightclubs at the height of Beatlemania. Upon relocating to San Francisco during the hippie era, Miller launched a professional recording career that mixed psychedelic and bluesy elements to minor acclaim.

Half a dozen albums later, he finally hit pay dirt with a string of platinum-sellers (The Joker, Fly Like an Eagle, Book of Dreams). Adapting to Eighties synth-pop, the musician scored his final No. 1 single and top 10 album with Abracadabra. Over the past decade, Miller, 65, has toured regularly. Last year, he recorded a long-awaited new studio album (due out sometime in the near future) and put out a worthwhile concert DVD+CD, Live in Chicago.

The 95-minute, 24-song set kicked off with “Swingtown” as the crowd sang the opening “whoa” line. Miller and his tight six member group (these guys can and often did stop on a dime) immediately locked into a shuffle groove. Marijuana smoke suddenly filled the air.

Backing singer and newest band recruit Sonny Charles, 68, the former front man for R&B group Checkmates, Ltd. (best known for the hits “Black Pearl” and “Put it in a Magazine”) added old school dance moves to the proceedings. The audience got quite a kick out of his antics throughout the evening. At times, it was difficult to choose between watching Miller’s amazing fleet fingers on the fretboard or Charles’ soft shoe routine.

Miller and longtime harmonica player/vocalist Norton Buffalo (who looked like he just arrived from Haight Ashbury) engaged in a sizzling duel on “The Stake” where group harmonies were in full effect. Spacey sounds from keyboardist Joseph Wooten set up the epic length “Fly Like an Eagle.” Everyone got to jam here: Miller did some gorgeous arpeggios and Wooten’s dexterity was mind-blowing.

A solo acoustic guitar segment saw Miller play the pleasant “Seasons” (from 1969’s Brave New World). Then he dedicated a tender take on Cooke’s “You Send Me” to Debbie Shuck, executive director of the Fender Center and Museum in Corona and a group of young students in attendance. Miller has played benefits at the facility and donated memorabilia. Onstage, he talked up their music education program and exhibits (check out for more info).

From there, standouts included the folksy Dobro-fueled hoedown, “Dance Dance Dance” a steamrolling take on Johnson’s “Crossroads” (a set list addition; Miller thanked fans for indulging him) and sturdy rock songs familiar to those of us weaned on KLOS/95.5 FM: “Take the Money and Run,” “Rock’n Me,” “The Joker” and “Jet Airliner.”

All told, Miller put on a laid back, memorable performance and showed no signs of slowing down 40+ years on.

Huey Lewis & the News concert review

Photo by Armando Brown/For the Orange County Register
A version of my review ran in the Register

Huey Lewis and the News
Pacific Amphitheatre, Costa Mesa
July 30

“I’m taking what they’re giving ‘cause I’m workin’ for a livin’”

The lyrics to that song, which closed Huey Lewis and the News’ fun and highly enjoyable 85-minute set at the Pacific Amphitheatre on Thursday night, best encapsulates their rise to fame.

When the Bay Area group began attracting national attention with second album Picture This in 1982, it was hardly an overnight success story. Various members had paid their dues for a decade, slogging away in bars here and abroad, making independent releases that went nowhere and serving as sidemen (a couple guys helped record Elvis Costello’s acclaimed debut).

Once their videos started airing on MTV, the story suddenly changed. Lead singer Lewis, then in his early 30s, wrote songs about being a reluctant romantic and the girls swooned. Others appealed to the working class at large. The singer came across as an Average Joe – someone guys wouldn’t mind hanging with to shoot some pool or down a couple brews. There was no rock star attitude, unlike so many British new wave exports topping the charts at the time.

The music, often rooted in classic rock ‘n’ roll and rhythm and blues of the Fifties and Sixties, also separated Huey Lewis and the News from the pack.Sports, released in 1983, was a blockbuster, spawned five top 20 singles and eventually sold 10 million copies.

In Costa Mesa, a familiar heartbeat sound signaled the nine musicians’ arrival on stage. Lewis played a harmonica intro and they launched into “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” the first of five tunes culled from Sports. Despite a three-man horn section (Johnny Colla, among four original Newsmen, did double duty on sax and electric guitar), the sound never got too loud.

Lewis and Colla engaged in some fine tandem harp and sax work on “I Want a New Drug.” Then a nasty fight erupted between a man and woman near the left orchestra section (and we were only 15 minutes into the show). It took quite awhile for the handful of Pac Amp security people to figure out what was going on. By the time the band transitioned into the jazzy “Small World,” police officers finally arrived and escorted half a dozen louts out of the row (some were later allowed back inside).

Last time I saw the band was a 2000 gig at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula. Lewis’ voice struggled with a few big hits then. He is even more taxed by selections like “If This Is It” and “The Power of Love” these days (how Lewis survived a stint as lawyer Billy Flynn in the Broadway musical “Chicago” a few years back is beyond me). Still, the soaring brass notes and doo wop-styled backing vocals carried Lewis every time.

“We haven’t been in O.C. for awhile. We didn’t get the (government) bailout, so we’re back on the road,” quipped Lewis, before dedicating a compelling “Walking on a Thin Line” to all veterans. Sans horns, it was lean and mean. Later, Lewis jumped around the stage during the whimsical “Hip to Be Square.”

Known for their a cappella vocals segments in concert - back in the day, they would often sing the National Anthem at big baseball games - the band wowed the audience with finger snapping renditions of Curtis Mayfield & The Impressions’ “It’s All Right” and Chubby Checker & Dee Dee Sharp’s “Slow Twistin’”. Despite Lewis’ disclaimer that the latter one was only worked up last week and “hasn’t gone well, frankly,” it came across fine with unobtrusive bass, sax and drum machine. Definitely a high point.

One humorous moment came during the group’s soulful Stax-style hit cover of “It’s Alright” by J.J. Jackson (these ‘60s titles sure can get confusing). When Lewis’ short xylophone solo arrived, a young sexy girl came out holding the instrument for him and she was rewarded with a kiss.

While there was a generous dose of fan faves, there were some surprising set omissions (“Trouble in Paradise,” all but one of five top 10 hits from 1986 triple platinum seller Fore, more recent Adult Contemporary radio charters, the cool title track to last year’s Seth Rogan and James Franco comedy “Pineapple Express.”). I would’ve traded the so-so new songs (“Saturday Night,” “Feel It”) for any of the above.

By the home stretch, Huey Lewis and the News seemed to be hitting their stride, especially on punchy “Back in Time” - a second “Back to the Future” soundtrack number where Lewis did playful synchronized moves with the horn section. And the slower, reworked Hammond organ-led “Do You Believe in Love” was wonderful as usual. The bluesy “Workin’ for a Livin’,” with Lewis displaying his chops on the mouth harp capped the proceedings off before 10 p.m.