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Voyage, Hollywood Nights take tributes to higher level at Penn's Peak on Sat.

  • JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Voyage singer Hugo Valenti performs Steve Perry's vocals during the Journey tribute at Penn's Peak Saturday night.
    JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS Voyage singer Hugo Valenti performs Steve Perry's vocals during the Journey tribute at Penn's Peak Saturday night.
Published November 15. 2010 05:00PM

Journey and Bob Seger produced a plethora of hits during their commercial zenith in the 1970's and 80's, making them prime subjects for tribute bands.

Both were paid homage by bands that did remarkable jobs with their tributes before a large crowd at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe Saturday night.

Voyage, featuring vocalist Hugo Valenti, brought its Journey tribute to The Peak, while Hollywood Nights, a Philadelphia-based band, presented its take on Seger.

When it comes to Journey tributes, the discussion should begin and end with Hugo, whose resemblence to former Journey lead singer Steve Perry is so uncanny, it it downright scary.

Not only does Hugo physically look like Perry, he has the same torchy, soulful vocals and even has similar mannerisms on stage.

Hugo formerly fronted the band Valentine and has released solo albums.

This is not the first time Hugo has dipped into Journey territory; he and members of Valentine previously appeared at The Peak under the name Evolution.

As one might expect, Voyage focuses on the Steve Perry era of Journey, even displaying a similar logo.

Voyage has the Journey sound nailed, and Hugo has a superb group of backing musicians supporting the vision.

Guitarist Robby Hoffman has the knack for producing the soaring riffs of Neal Schon, the other key element in Journey's musical landscape. Keyboardist Paul Morris adds to the soundscape, and Greg Smith (who also plays bass for Ted Nugent) and drummer Charlie Zelenzy add the rhythmic pulse.

While Journey might not have invented the power ballad, it pretty much perfected it, and Hugo shined on "Open Arms," "Lights," "Faithfully" and Perry's solo hit "Oh Sherrie."

Hugo had no problem engaging the crowd to sing along on the coda of "Loving, Touching, Squeezing" and "Don't Stop Believing."

The band demonstrated it even has the ability to jam, propelling "Wheel in the Sky" to another level by taking off at the end.

Hollywood Nights features singer Rick Murphy, supported by a nine-piece band that includes three female backing vocalists. That gave them a full, rich sound that went a long way to replicating Seger's Silver Bullet Band.

Murphy, with his long, brown hair and beard, resembled the Seger of the 70's, and his raspy vocals were solid reproductions of Seger's trademark growl.

Seger's music is a soundtrack to the red-blooded American male, and songs like "Her Strut," "The Fire Down Below," "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man," and "Old Time Rock and Roll" were performed with the appropriate level of testosterone by Murphy and company.

What sets Seger apart from other Midwestern rockers is his more reflective material, and Hollywood Nights did Seger proud on signature songs "Turn The Page," "Main Street," "Night Moves," "Against The Wind" and "Like a Rock."

Murphy and the band took the Seger show to another level by adding Silver Bullet-influenced covers of "Trying to Live My Life Without You" and Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son."

Steve Perry is no longer with Journey, and Bob Seger tours infrequently these days, but fans can take solace: it is a fitting tribute to Voyage and Hollywood Nights that they are the next best thing to the originals.

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