Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, December 11 , 2018, 1:19 am | Fair 46º


Jeff Moehlis: Rock ‘n’ Soul with Huey Lewis and Joe Cocker

Singers bring rock 'n' roll doubleheader to Santa Barbara Bowl

It was a soulful doubleheader at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sunday night, with blue-eyed soul popsters Huey Lewis and The News playing an abbreviated but thoroughly enjoyable opening set, and the legendary Joe Cocker giving his throat a workout to the crowd’s delight — all in the name of rock ‘n’ roll.

Lewis and The News kicked off with “The Heart of Rock & Roll,” for which Lewis fittingly included “Santa Barbara” in the list of cities that are driven wild by rock ‘n’ roll music. Well, it took a little while for the Bowl to warm up, but by the end of their set almost the whole crowd was on their feet dancing along.

Their set included several more of the band’s well-known songs, including “I Want a New Drug,” “Doing It All for My Baby,” “Jacob’s Ladder (Step By Step)” with some cool extended jamming by the band, and “Heart and Soul.” I’m sure there were many in attendance like myself who kept thinking, “Oh wow, that’s right. They did that one, too!”

The band also performed several great cover songs, namely “Some Kind of Wonderful” by the Soul Brothers Six (and made famous by Grand Funk Railroad), “Respect Yourself” by The Staple Singers and included on the band’s latest album, Soulsville, and “Little Bitty Pretty One,” which was done almost a cappella, with just a few instruments to keep the beat.

Lewis’ voice still has its blue-eyed soul charm, and the band was spot on — professional but not overly slick. As I listened I was struck by how great the arrangements of their songs are, with catchy horn charts and the like, something done so masterfully that it just sounds natural.

The crowd was clearly pumped up for an encore, but Lewis didn’t re-emerge. At the time I thought that the time crunch from the Bowl’s curfew was to blame, but we later learned that Lewis wasn’t feel well and went straight to Cottage Hospital after his set. Thankfully he’s OK, and he has promised through his management to do an encore the next time he passes through town.

Next up was Cocker, a former Santa Barbara resident who belted out his classic repertoire, some of which dates back to his star-making performance at Woodstock and his legendary Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour over four decades ago.

Joe Cocker sang his classic repertoire at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sunday night. (Garrett Geyer / Noozhawk photo)
Joe Cocker sang his classic repertoire at the Santa Barbara Bowl on Sunday night. (Garrett Geyer / Noozhawk photo)

Most of Cocker’s best known songs are covers, but with rhythm-and-blues and soulful arrangements that give them a totally different vibe from the originals. “Feelin’ Alright” is transformed from a strummy tune by Traffic to a funky romp. “You Can Leave Your Hat On” goes from the quirky Randy Newman original to a sultry striptease soundtrack.

Of course, then there is “With a Little Help from My Friends,” in Cocker’s hands an epic, almost bombastic cover of The Beatles song. They stuck pretty close to the famous arrangement featured in the Woodstock movie (but, sorry Grease Band, better background vocals), and although Cocker is more restrained these days, he still brings an impressive intensity to the proceedings. How does this man’s voice hold up? I guess the water he would sneak while the band took solos helps.

Cocker also showed his sensitive, vulnerable side with “Up Where We Belong” and “You Are So Beautiful,” the latter slowed down effectively to a crawl and rewarded with a well-deserved standing ovation.

This was a well-paired and well-played double header at The Bowl, and hopefully the next time Lewis and/or Cocker are in town they’re “Feelin’
Alright” so the show can go on and on.

Huey Lewis and The News Setlist

The Heart of Rock & Roll
Some Kind of Wonderful (Soul Brothers Six cover)
Respect Yourself (Staple Singers cover)
I Want a New Drug
Small World
Doing It All for My Baby
Jacob’s Ladder (Step By Step)
Little Bitty Pretty One (Thurston Harris cover)
Heart and Soul
But It’s Alright
We’re Not Here for a Long Time (We’re Here for a Good Time)

Joe Cocker Setlist

Hitchcock Railway
Feelin’ Alright (Traffic cover)
The Letter (Box Tops cover)
When the Night Comes
Lonely Avenue (Ray Charles cover)
Up Where We Belong
You Are So Beautiful (Billy Preston cover)
Hard Knocks
Come Together (Beatles Cover)
You Can Leave Your Hat On (Randy Newman cover)
Unchain My Heart (Ray Charles cover)
With a Little Help from My Friends (Beatles cover)


She Came in Through the Bathroom Window (Beatles cover)
Cry Me a River (Julie London cover)

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.