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Band on Tour: The ‘cover band’ concept hits the Big Time at Tropicana Atlantic City

The Trop’s summertime offering serves up a mixtape full of classic-rock anthems

Chuck Darrow

Chuck Darrow

The public’s insatiable appetite for what is universally known as “classic rock” — music created and recorded roughly between 1964 and 1979 — has already given rise to the “tribute band” phenomenon, in which musicians devote an entire set to often clone-like musical and visual recreations of popular acts of the era.

But Band on Tour, which runs through Aug. 30 at Tropicana Atlantic City, doesn’t hew to the single-artist formula. Instead, it delivers a 75-minute potpourri of songs and styles in the manner of, well, of the kind of band that can be found on any weekend in bars from Key West to Seattle.

Indeed, the musicians in Band on Tour comprise what can only be described as a cover band on steroids. Which means they have the budget to recreate an actual rock-concert experience via top-notch sound, lighting and video production. And judging by the enthusiasm of the audience at a recent performance, the concept definitely scratches a collective itch.

Actually, a better moniker for the rather generically named program might have been “Arena Rock Forever,” as virtually all of the songs performed (a few of which are not from the classic-rock catalog) are of the soul-stirring, fist-pumping variety. From the show-opening, acoustic version of the Eagles’ “Hotel California” to the closing mega-medley that, bizarrely enough, includes both “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana and “Hold the Line” by Toto (definitely the only time those two names will ever appear in the same sentence), the hits keep coming. They include “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin; “Money” (Pink Floyd); “Dream On (Aerosmith); “Livin’ On A Prayer” (Bon Jovi) and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell,” which features one of the group’s two guitarists shredding in full Angus Young short-pants-schoolboy drag.

The key to the show’s success is its troika of lead singers, each of whom specializes in a certain style. Fred Lebel handles the rougher-edged, bluesier tasks like the AC/DC segment; Bob St. Laurent assumes the showier rock-god duties (e.g. David Lee Roth and Robert Plant) while David Latulippe does impressive heavy lifting on the more sophisticated vocal assignments, including U2’s Bono and Queen legend Freddie Mercury. The latter portrayal is the show’s bring-down-the-house sequence (not surprising, considering it includes “We Are the Champions,” “We Will Rock You” and a chunk of “Bohemian Rhapsody”).

Add to these performances the crackerjack sonic cloning by the band, and you have a program that, while hardly groundbreaking, nonetheless proves to be quite satisfying and a good deal of fun.

Tropicana Atlantic City, Boardwalk at Brighton Avenue; dates and times vary through Aug. 30. $25 and $15 (16 and under); https://www.tropicana.net/event/shows/band-tour