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An 80's celebration

  • JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Cheri Martorana of Rubix Kube brings the 80's back to life at Penn's Peak.
    JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Cheri Martorana of Rubix Kube brings the 80's back to life at Penn's Peak.
Published April 19. 2010 05:00PM

Trying to capture the electricity of the music of the 1980's on stage is like time traveling in that Delorean from Back to the Future; you had better be moving at 88 miles an hour to catch the lightning.

It's a challenge that New York City 80's tribute band Rubix Kube pulled off during a fast paced debut at Penn's Peak Friday night.

The key to pop music success in the 80's was that artists could no longer merely rely on their music. Due to the explosion of MTV onto the scene, acts with a visual flair (and a hot music video) were the ones who topped the charts.

What has been amazing is how well the music has held up, long after the styles of that decade have faded. Video didn't really kill the radio star after all.

While the songs have staying power, it wouldn't be a full-fledged 80's Experience without dipping into the closet, too, and that's a major element in Rubix Kube's appeal. The band definitely has the chops to pull off the music, whether it's ripping into new wave, arena rock, hair band metal, rap, soul or the mainstream.

Vocalists Cherie Martorana and Scott Lovelady have mastered the wide variety of 80's singers, which is no mean feat, but they also have the knack of for the fashion as well.

Cherie is in constant motion, changing costumes almost at will. Whether resplendent in vintage spandex, donning a cheerleader's outfit (for Toni Basil's "Mickey"), slipping into a wedding dress for "Like A Virgin" or becoming a vacuum tube babe for The Buggles' "Video Killed The Radio Star", Cherie has all the bases covered.

Lovelady deserves kudos for his fine Michael Jackson and Prince salutes. In fact, the most 80's moment of the evening came when Cherie's "Like a Virgin" was followed by "Billie Jean" in a Thriller of a two-pack.

The rest of the band didn't forget their 80's look, either. Brightly colored striped shirts, oversized sunglasses, and even Devo energy domes made their appearance.

The stage was adorned with record albums (remember them) of artists such as Men At Work and Katrina and the Waves, while the video screen behind the band flashed photos of others, forming a sort of 80's Honor Roll.

The band's setlist has the diversity of the decade covered, but while there were glimpses of new wave ("Hungry Like the Wolf", "Take on Me", "I Melt With You", "Whip It") as well as quirky pop ("Girls Just Want to Have Fun", "Come on Eileen", :Walking on Sunshine"), this show was more about straight ahead 80's rockers.

It was a night for Journey ("Don't Stop Believing"), Van Halen ("Jump"), Loverboy ("Working For the Weekend"), Kenny Loggins ("Footloose"), Rick Springfield ("Jesse's Girl"), Eddie Money ("Take Me Home Tonight"), Bon Jovi ("Livin' on a Prayer"), Bryan Adams ("Summer of 69"), and even for an emotionally charged take on Queen and David Bowie's "Under Pressure".

Vocalist Paulie Z. of Brooklyn rock band ZO2 joined the band onstage at one point, and his piercing pipes are tailor made for "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)", "Eye of the Tiger" and "You Shook Me All Night Long".

The hair bands also got their nod, represented by Whitesnake ("Here I Go Again"), Warrant ("Cherry Pie") and Def Leppard ("Pour Some Sugar On Me").

With all of that, Rubix Kube also managed to cram in The Outfield's "Your Love", a Tiffany-like "I Think We're Alone Now", Erasure's signature "A Little Respect" and closing out with a "Rebel Yell", Billy Idol-style.

The crowd kept dancing through it all, proving Rubix Kube is the quickest way to relive the 80's, outside of hopping into a hot tub time machine.

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