Constantine Maroulis earned a Tony Award nomination playing a rock star on Broadway. He played another role Wednesday in Savannah Center – rock god resurrecting the ‘80s.
This was Classic Rock nirvana and we’re not talking about Kurt Cobain’s old band. Maroulis threw his body, heart, mind and musical soul into a sweat-drenching, ear-shattering, foot-stomping trip back to the ‘80s.
On stage, he acted like a cross between Axl Rose and Bono, with a little Robert Plant thrown in for good measure. Maroulis was jumping, running and howling with glee and abandon. He grabbed his microphone stand like a spear. He also bolted the stage a few times, for trips into the audience and even made his way up to the bleacher seats to lead a sing-a-long.
Maroulis, 47, is best known for his Broadway performance in “Rock of Ages” and competing on “American Idol” in 2005.
But Wednesday he was firing one musical sonic blast after another with his “Foreigners Journey” concert before a packed house at Savannah Center.
This was Classic Rock the way it used to be, in the good old days of big hair, mullets and MTV. No one could quite match the vocals of Steve Perry and Lou Gramm – lead singers of Journey and Foreigner – but that wasn’t the point of this show.
Maroulis’ acting skills, vocal dexterity and magnetic stage presence, somehow made old songs fresh, while remaining true to their origins. More importantly, he captured the rock and roll spirit with unbridled zest.
He had plenty of help from an impressive band that featured Kevin Alexander Herrera’s smoking-hot guitar licks. The group also included Adam Tese, saxophone; Paul Kochanski, keyboards; Joe Pettengill, bass and Arthur Mambuca, drums.
“Me and the boys got together to make some music and have some fun—welcome to the rock show,” Maroulis said. “This is our first trip to The Villages, and we heard you all like to party. I hope you locked up your golf carts.”
It didn’t take long for the house to start rocking. Maroulis, with shoulder length long dark, curly hair was wearing a black leather jacket, sunglasses, and tight, white jeans. He ripped into “Double Vision,” a Foreigner staple. He prowled the stage, waved to fans and sometimes, threw punches at an imaginary foe to rouse the crowd.
Maroulis offered more hyper theatrics on “Urgent,” another pounding number, as was “Feels Like the First Time.”
Things slowed down with Journey’s power ballad, “Who’s Crying Now.” Maroulis and the boys got back to rocking on “Be Good to Yourself” and “As Cold As Ice.”
The mood shifted again as Maroulis sat down near the front of center stage for his take on Journey’s moving ballad, “Faithfully.”
“I want to dedicate this to the men and women serving in the armed forces all over the world, protecting us,” he said. He added the song was also for first responders and teachers.
Midway through the song, Maroulis jumped down from the stage and walked down the aisle, as white-glowing cellphones were waving in the air.
He kept walking until he got to the elevated section of Savannah Center, and made his way halfway up the steps to lead the audience in singing. It was a powerful moment, and Maroulis’ acting chops added to the emotion.
Then came another musical surprise. Maroulis paid tribute to Toto, with rollicking versions of “Rosanna,” “Africa,” and “Hold the Line.”
Next was a scorching mash up of Foreigner’s “Juke Box Hero,” combined with Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.” You could feel goosebumps rising, when Herrera made like Jimmy Page on lead guitar while Maroulis stood center stage and screamed his way through Led Zeppelin’s all-time standard.
It was all part of Constantine Maroulis’ rock and roll fantasy. “I’ll never forget this night in The Villages,” he said.
Neither will the people in the seats.
Tony Violanti covers arts and music for Villages-News.com. He was inducted into the Buffalo NY Music Hall of Fame as a music journalist.