Chicago, with Huey Lewis and the News
At the Santa Barbara Bowl Saturday. June 10.
Reviewed by Lynne Simpson
Saturday night’s show at the Bowl definitely catered to a mature crowd, but being at the younger end of the spectrum, I too was taken back to family road trips and late summer nights belting along to the rock radio staples of my childhood.
The evening began with smooth, raspy-voiced Huey Lewis, who rocked the stage in tight jeans and a gentlemanly style, harmonica in tow, and enjoyed undying synergy with the crowd. Men and women — but mostly women — remained on their feet for flawless classics like “I Want a New Drug,” “Small World,” “If This Is It,” and “Power of Love.” The News brought it all together, accompanying Huey for the “It’s Alright” a cappella, and lead guitarist Stef Burns stole the spotlight more than once with serious solos. When the proverbial curtain came down on the first set of the double-header, most people could have left satisfied. But the audience endured, and some got what they’d been awaiting for decades.
Chicago took the stage to a transitioning ovation, but quieted the crowd by announcing that the fans would be hearing some new tunes from the recently released Chicago XXX album. Indeed, the performance mind-set of both groups was based on their promotional antics — Huey Lewis and the News have recently released a greatest hits album and Chicago is celebrating their first full album of new material in 15 years.
Perpetual fan favorites such as “If You Leave Me Now,” “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?,” “25 or 6 to 4,” and “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” were outnumbered by the new material, but still rockin’ after 30-some-odd years in play. The new music continued the ballad-and-boy-band rock that Chicago has mastered with the versatile harmony of the saxophone, trombone, trumpet, guitar, bass, drums, and keyboard together with heavy vocals and intimate lyrical ability. Huey Lewis joined in on the hits, reviving the fans and proving that you really can’t have too many talented entertainers in one band. Both legendary ensembles played strong for the baby-boomer crowd and gave the sold-out show one ageless Saturday at the Bowl.