The 1960s brought the Rat Pack, now comes “The Rock Pack.”
While the legendary quintet of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop mixed singing and comedy, this new fivesome, consisting of John Payne (formerly of Asia), Lou Gramm (formerly of Foreigner), Steve Augeri (formerly of Journey), Bobby Kimball (formerly of Toto) and Fee Waybill (the Tubes), will focus on classic rock songs and the stories behind them at NYCB Theatre at Westbury on Saturday, Jan. 20.
“I wanted people to hear each singer’s big songs and let the crowd get to know their personalities a bit,” says Payne, who came up with the concept and runs the band. “The camaraderie is like the Rat Pack with us all singing, joking and telling stories.”
HOW IT WORKS
The show begins with Payne and his band performing Asia hits “Only Time Will Tell,” “Time Again” and “Sole Survivor.” Then Payne heads over to stage right, where there’s a bar, table and sofa with a pub backdrop. Here he hosts each singer for an interview.
“We talk about their past and what they are doing now. It’s not scripted at all, just totally off the cuff,” he says. “Then each guy does three songs. Nearly every song has been in the Top 20 or 30 on the Billboard charts, so it’s a very familiar set.”
Gramm, who is on a comeback after suffering from health issues, captures the crowd’s attention with Foreigner hits such as “Feels Like the First Time,” “Jukebox Hero” and “Hot Blooded.”
“People tell me that our music is woven into the fabric of their youth,” Gramm says. “Some say the songs helped picked them up when they were down. It’s nice to hear how they affected people.”
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One of the biggest moments comes when Gramm performs the No. 1 power ballad, “I Want to Know What Love Is.”
“I look out to the crowd and see guys slow dancing and lip-locked with their girlfriends,” Gramm says. “I smile and think to myself, ‘It still works!’ ”
The punky element comes from Waybill, who delivers Tubes tunes “She’s a Beauty,” “Talk to You Later” and “White Punks on Dope.”
“Each song I play had an impact on the band’s career,” Waybill says. “ ‘White Punks’ put us on the map. ‘Talk to You Later’ was our first international hit and ‘She’s a Beauty’ was our biggest song that cemented our legend.”
But he won’t be coming out as his alter-ego, Quay Lewd, a glam-rock cartoonish stage character Waybill traditionally portrays in concert.
“If I come out as Quay, it kind of blows all the other guys off the stage,” Waybill says. “I don’t want to do that.”
Kimball will deliver Toto hits “Rosanna,” “Hold the Line,” and “Africa” while Augeri dips into the Journey classics with “Lights,” “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” and “Faithfully.”
“At this show, catalog is king. When you think of the music of Journey, Foreigner, Toto, the Tubes and Asia, they are not one-hit wonders,” Augeri says. “These are bands that have a minimum of four top 10 hits each. The songs are the stars.”
The show concludes with each singer belting out his biggest song and then they all gather together onstage for a surprise encore.
“It’s a fun show with a relaxed feel to it,” Payne says. “It’s almost as if you’ve been to a festival seeing five artists in a two-hour span.”
‘THE ROCK PACK’
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20, at NYCB Theatre at Westbury, 960 Brush Hollow Rd.
INFO 516-247-5200, thetheatreatwestbury.com
For those craving Steve Perry-era Journey music, tribute band Voyage will deliver at The Paramount in Huntington on Friday, Jan. 19 ($15-$35, 631-673-7300, paramountny.com).
“Journey is all about great songwriting with amazing melodies,” says lead singer Hugo Valenti, who mimics Perry’s vocals and looks. “People have emotional ties to these songs.”
The biggest moment comes when the 90-minute, hits-packed set concludes with the anthem “Don’t Stop Believin’.”
“The song causes an eruption of audience participation,” says Valenti, of Islip. “It’s crazy!”