And you thought Freddie Mercury died?
Freddie and the rest of Queen were alive and kicking on December 3rd at JC’s Restaurant in Manorville. In fact, so were Billy Idol, Duran Duran, the Pretenders, Blondie and a bunch more.
They were all on one stage in the form of White Wedding, the Long Island/tri-state area’s hottest 80s band. Playing two generously long sets, they covered everything from here ‘Til Tuesday.
White Wedding is musical theater. You are served “Walk like an Egyptian” with a sexy Susanna Hoffs at the helm and “Rebel Yell” with a fist-pumping Billy Idol. Bono is replete in all of his pony-tailed, dark-shaded, dramatic glory on “New Year’s Day” while “Dancing in the Dark” features a bandana-d Bruce inviting a Courteney Cox in the crowd to perform that famous dance together. It’s a riot, really, and impossible not to grin.
The two vocalists who front the transformations are Rob Pedini and Tiffany Challe, both of whom, not surprisingly, have many years experience in musical theater.
Pedini has over 17 years experience in show business, including Off Broadway productions such as Blue Man Group, interactive theater, voiceovers, film (“The Accidental Husband” starring Uma Thurman), television (“America’s Most Wanted, in a re-enactment of a detective, not a fugitive,” he says). As much as Pedini loses himself in his makeup and costume, he says his most successful role is as father to his daughter, Gracie. When not regaling the stage with White Wedding, he also acts as director, producer and writer at his own multimedia production company, Mook Productions.
Tiffany Challe, who serves as resident Cyndi Lauper, Pat Benatar, Stevie Nicks and others, has been singing her whole life. She pays tribute to her musical influences onstage including Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and Madonna. Challe performed in musical theater productions and, while living in Paris, collaborated with French composers and discovered a passion for recording, writing and watching songs come to life. Since moving to NYC, she has joined White Wedding and recorded her first electro-pop EP.
White Wedding’s cover tunes are energetically and artfully recreated by Mike, on guitar; JC Keys on keyboards; Dave Herbert on bass, and Spike Genalo on drums. As a kid, Mike relentlessly played Blondie albumsand eventually taught himself to play the guitar, bass and drums. He joined the Salford Lads, a Smiths/Morrissey tribute band in NYC and later formed an 80’s pop and new wave band that eventually evolved into White Wedding (NY’s most totally awesome 80’s tribute band, natch). JC Keys has been a keyboardist for over 20 years in tri-state cover bands. He’s a published BMI songwriter and recording artist. His fondness for and talent in synthesized music especially shows in songs by A Flock of Seagulls, Devo and Erasure. David Herbert has studied bass privately for over 15 years. In addition to standard electric bass, he plays electric upright bass with The New York Jazz Academy Big Band, with whom he debuted at Carnegie Hall. Skillfully providing the band’s rhythm section with Herbert is drummer Spike Genalo, who has been playing drums since before he was born, which is quite a feat in itself. Influenced by drummers Roger Taylor, Neil Peart, Bill Bruford and Keith Moon, Genalo is also a member of The Good Yeggs, a rock trio based in Brooklyn.
White Wedding left no 80s tune unturned this night, playing dozens of pop songs from an impressive songlist ranging from the B52’s to Elvis Costello to Guns ‘N Roses. “The Promise,” the band’s opening number, was a surprise treat as was “99 Love Balloons (or “Luftballoons,” as it were). “Take On Me” and “Come On, Eileen” were both one-hit wonderful. The band played an upbeat, tight and entertaining show that brought everyone to the dance floor. The synchronized choreography between Pedini and Challe in a few of the numbers made it that more playful. In fact, we even got to pass around and try on a Devo hat. How much more 80s spirit can you get?
“We all feed off the energy of the crowd,” Genalo says.
While the band as a whole gets you pumped up and time-traveled to the days of big hair and acid-washed jeans, it is Pedini who steals the show. His passion for acting and singing gives him a Jim Morrison-like presence in his ability to capture your attention. He is Prince, Billy Idol, Springsteen, Simon LeBon, Bono and, well, anyone you want him to be. It all works, and it works really well.
With a band this entertaining, it’s always a nice day for a White Wedding.
For band info and complete schedule, visit www.whiteweddingband.com.