Monday, August 11, 2008

Huey Lostit

It’s always sad to see musicians that were once on the top of the pop world to be reduced to playing their old hits at state fairs. Last night, the string of washed-up ‘80s acts continued its parade across the State Fair grandstand stage with Huey Lewis and the News making an appearance. And I gather from this review Lewis and the band gave the crowd what they wanted, but this is just pathetic:

Lewis seemed to struggle with the higher notes in his songs.

At first, it seemed like there was a problem with his microphone or the sound mix, with some lyrics not coming through the PA system.

But soon it became clear that whenever Lewis would have to hit a high note, like in singing the title phrase from "This Is It," he would quickly and subtly slide the mic up from his mouth to his right cheek, next to his nose.

The mic he was using, which appeared to be a Shure SM-58, is designed to pick up sound directly in front of it, so it would seem that Lewis knew he would hardly be heard when he moved the mic away from his mouth.

Or maybe he was just getting over a cold or something. But probably not. Sadly, it is the voice, the one truly human element, that often goes first for aging musicians.

I’m thinking also of Roger Daltrey who arguably once had the most powerful voices in rock and now continues to perform with the rump version of The Who (it’s just him and Pete Townshend now, the other two original members of the band having already died). Daltrey’s voice is shot. Most recently, I saw the The Who perform on VH-1’s Rock Honors program and it was sad. Poor guy.


Will said...

I went to see Joan Jett and left before Huey came on. I think she would be better in a different venue, but she put on a great show. She also has a very good new album. She isn't just a retread playing her old hits. I may blog about it later today or tomorrow.

JeromeProphet said...

I see it differently. As a man gets older his vocal cords stretch, and the voice goes to lower notes.

But the Rock hits which made these men famous, and which fans want to hear, were sung by younger higher pitched voices.

Lots of stars from the era before Rock had no problem crooning out their hits until they dropped dead because they sang like men from the very start - not like sissy Rockers singing in false voices, but singing from the gut.

Many rock stars deliberately change styles of songs to accommodate this, but some don't.

What's really sad is when older men try to sing in the same voices they had when they were nineteen.