Saturday, 30 January 2010

Not The Nine O'Clock News

I am, to the best of my knowledge, the only Huey Lewis and the News fan that I know. This has been the case since I lost contact with my friend Marcus in 1989 with whom I shared an unnatural obsession for Back to the Future; a film heavy with Huey including a cameo from Mr Lewis as a proto-American Idol talent scout. Though I doubt he’d admit it now, Marcus and I were very proud to be Huey fans, because it set us apart from everyone else at school – and in a good way. Whilst our peers were earnestly trying to understand their older siblings’ Genesis and Sting albums, we knew that it wasn’t hip to be so square.

As well as mainlining the band's best albums, Sports and Fore!, we both had the video compilation Fore! and More - eagerly described by one Amazon reviewer as ‘clips of the guys being themselves, clowning around and having a good time. Don't be surprised if you laugh out loud at their antics!’ Quite so. From watching these clips I decided that my favourite band member was Mario Cipollina; the lanky bass player rarely seen without a cig hanging loosely from his lower lip and who clearly influenced Nick Cave’s look throughout the 1990s.

The News' Mario Cipollina: thank you for smoking

As with all pre-teen obsessions my Huey love was over as quickly as it started. Marcus came back from a holiday loaded with INXS and Def Leppard tapes whilst I betrayed my retro-Fifties double denim past with the Pet Shop Boys and Kylie. However one enduring legacy of my Huey days remains; to this day The Power of Love is always the very first song I play on any new audio equipment I buy, and has graced every walkman, tape deck, turntable, mini-disc, cd player, car stereo and iPod I’ve ever owned.

Given all of this you’d expect that I’d be reasonably excited this week with the (ahem) news that Huey and the gang are visiting Australia in March as part of their Still Workin’ for a Livin’ tour. And I am… I mean I was… until I saw that tickets for the gigs start at $125; ‘Gold Class’ is $149. Now I’m not averse to paying silly amounts of money for concerts, even for the right kind of has-been, but the idea that it’s reasonable to charge the same as Leonard Cohen for a pushin' 60 Huey and some of the News (sadly Mario is long gone…) is faintly ridiculous.

Huey et al: note relative coolness of Mario to speckled-suited others

I’ve still never seen them live, so there is part of me that wants to go, just for the same kind of nostalgic silliness that took me to see Def Leppard (thanks again Marcus) with a friend’s mum in 2008. Yet, to put this in even sharper perspective, the Go-Betweens’ ever-dapper Robert Forster has just announced some new Australian dates - ticket price: a mere $33 of your Australian dollars. I’d wager I’m the only person in Australia weighing up these two as competing options.

Sadly $125 feels like a step too far and it looks like I’m destined not to feel the Power of Love live, hear the Heart of Rock and Roll still beating for myself or have another conversation about how Ray Parker Jr ripped off I Want a New Drug for the theme from Ghostbusters. This is a shame, because given the amount of once-cherished credibility I’ve lost amongst sniffy music lovers defending Huey’s name it would have been nice to show the hip that deep down I’m still happy to be square.

Tickets for Huey Lewis and the News are available here. For the more discerning listener, tickets for Robert Forster’s Australian shows can be purchased here.


Anonymous said...

I think, Mr. Custard, that you'll find that Messrs Lewis and Parker Jr borrowed the bassline for their respective songs from the 1979 song Pop Muzik by 'M'.

By the way, $125 is very little to pay for a lifelong memory.

Mint Custard said...

You're probably right... it might explain why I like all three songs.

Any thoughts on the as-yet unpopular theory that New Drug predicted the advent of Acid House? I for one would like to know more about Huey's (possible) influence on the floors of the Hacienda... Can someone ask Shaun Ryder?