Hugo Valenti is back!
The former Evolution front-man rocked out with his...well, you know...and his new Journey tribute band, Voyage, last night at the Nutty Irishman in Bay Shore, New York! If you are like me and are too young to have ever even gotten the opportunity to see the 80's rock band Journey perform live, well ladies and gentlemen, this is the closest you are ever going to get to the real thing! If you are lucky enough to have seen Journey back in the day and would love to re-live one of those concerts but you don't have tickets to a Voyage show yet, well then what are you waiting for?
The last time I saw Hugo was with his former band, Evolution at the Downtown in 2003 and I had forgotten over the years just how much I enjoyed his stage presence. Whether he's ripping on his guitarist for making fun of his Bar Mitzvah-styled shirt all night, or whether he's engaging the crowd in singing right along with these forty year-old classic tunes, Hugo makes sure you enjoy the show.
Embracing the microphone in a way that (before) only Steve Perry could, and matching Perry's soaring octaves with perfection, if you're a Journey fan you'll be pleased with a Voyage concert. The new band is excellent and the lead guitarist nails the Neal Schon solos perfectly. They even threw in "Oh, Sherry" for good measure. Not a Journey tune, but a Steve Perry solo album tune with which everyone loves to yell "should've been gone!" right along with Valenti.
Here's a clip of their opening song, "Separate Ways". I apologize for the lack of audio quality, however, you can definitely make out the doppelganger resemblance of Valenti to Perry in both vocals and appearance.
In terms of ratings, I would give the show a four out of five. It loses a star through no fault of the band's own, but because I believe the crowd forgot who they came to see.
You might want to remember when seeing Voyage that they are not *actually* Journey, Hugo is not *actually* Steve Perry and you do not need to elbow everyone out of the way to get to them.
After their set, Hugo promptly jumped off stage to spend a little face time with "his people", as we were called. He accepted the crowd's compliments and handshakes with grace and gratitude. I was pleasantly surprised that he even remembered my friend, Jen, and her pink, fuzzy hat from the time I had went with her to see him at the Downtown. Hugo is a very funny and pleasant guy and one you don't mind paying to support.
Now, as a special note for those of us who were there last night so you can chuckle in remembrance, here's a shout-out to "that guy": if you're seven feet tall, drunk or high (or both), and insist on being front row center where the five feet tall people like me can't see a damn thing, don't strangle your girlfriend during the rock songs and make out with her profusely during the ballads. No one paid the admission to watch YOU. All you're doing is ruining the show for us short people who can't see anything BUT you.
WIth that being said, if you want to catch Voyage's next show, (except for you, Tall Guy, you can stay home), they will be playing the Canal Room in New York City next weekend, October 15th at 10:00 PM. You can buy tickets here.
Have fun and stay safe!
Oh, and steer clear of the Tall Guy.