yt-live

Y&T – Göta Källare, Stockholm, 2016-09-30

dave-menikettiAnother year, another Y&T gig – and no one is happier than me. I remember back in the 80’s when as a huge Y&T fan, I was wondering why the Hell this band never showed up in my little country. I mean, every band and their mother played here so why not Y&T? I loved the band, I had a lot of friends who loved the band and they had a pretty big following in Sweden. Hell, back in 1984, their then new album In Rock We Trust showed up at our top 20 chart, so they did sell albums as well. But nope, no Y&T concert in sight. It took all the way to 2003 when Sweden Rock Festival gave them a call and asked if they might wanna reunite for a gig. They did – it was their second reunion – and original members Dave Meniketti (lead guitar, lead vocals), Philip Kennemore (bass, 1953 – 2011) and Leonard Haze (drums, 1955 – 2016) together with new guitarist John Nymann played a fabulous gig in front of a really big crowd, a gig that made the band come back they year after to play another killer gig and with that, Y&T were back in action again and since they have visited Sweden every year to play. Due to health reasons, Haze quit the band shortly after and was replaced by Mike Vanderhule, a line-up that was consistent until bass player and the core of Y&T with Meniketti bit the dust in 2011, losing a battle with cancer. His replacement Brad Lang played in the band until this year when he left to treat his alcoholism. That meant that this gig was the first one in Sweden for new bass player Aaron Leigh.

For the first time ever, Y&T opens the show with a song that’s not considered a classic, “On With The Show” from their reunion album – and the last ever to include Kennemore – Facemelter (2010). I look around and I notice a “what song is this?” look on a lot of people’s faces, but the crowd gets going after the first chorus. Even if you haven’t heard the song before, it’s a killer track with all the classic Y&T ingredients and it’s energetic as hell so it totally works as an opening track. For all Y&T fans who hasn’t checked out Facemelter, then do that immediately because it is a brilliant album. They kick right into the killer groove of “Lipstick And Leather” from In Rock We Trust. I know that lyrically, the tune is a bit cheesy and full of metal clichés but the twinkle in Meniketti’s eye is so obvious it’s impossible to take it seriously. Besides, it’s an awesome song and live it gets even better. The band kicks right into “Don’t Stop Runnin'”, my favorite track from In Rock We Trust and live it comes out even better than on record. It’s a slightly commercial, but still very energetic rocker that gets the crowd going every time they play it. “Dirty Girl” (Earthshaker, 1981) is a blues based, fat rocker where Meniketti shows that he comes from the blues and his guitar solo here is just astonishing. The chorus brings some hardcore singing from the audience and every fist in the room is in the air here. “Mean Streak” is usually an opener for the band but it doesn’t matter where in the set they put it as long as they play it. It’s such a classic hard rock pearl and it always sets the crowd into motion. In fact, that this tune didn’t put Y&T into the big league of hard rock bands when it came out in 1983 is one of the big mysteries of rock. “Don’t Bring Me Down” from Facemelter is next, a really good song but somehow it just doesn’t reach out to the crowd all the way despite sounding like a true Y&T classic. To me, it sounded awesome anyway. Ten (1990) was the last album Y&T made before calling it quits the first time which was a drag. That they called it quits, that is, not the album. The first single from that album, the half-ballad “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” should have been a big hit in a fair world, but it wasn’t. It’s holds a safe place in Y&T’s live set and it’s understandable – it’s killer track that hits home every time it’s being played. To not play “Lonely Side Of Town” (Mean Streak) is unthinkable, of course and it’s up next and of course the band totally nails it much to the crowd’s joy.

Facemelter is getting a kind of big share of the set this night and I’m not complaining since I love the record, but again “Blind Patriot” doesn’t get the effect it really should have. It’s weird because I get the feeling that most of the punters this night are Y&T hardcores and it’s a bit odd that a fair share of the audience doesn’t seem to know it. Next song is a bit of surprise. This is the seventh time that I see Y&T live but it’s the first time I get to hear “I’ll Keep On Believin’ (Do You Know)”. It’s one of my favorite tracks from In Rock We Trust so I was very happy to finally hear it live. The band really nails it and the backing vocals is so spot-on – bloody fantastic. “Black Tiger” is another classic that has to be played, it’s quite astonishing how the band makes it sound relevant 34 years after it’s release. By now the crowd is really warmed up and it feels like no matter what the band does, this night will be a victory and the amazing “Midnight In Tokyo” (Mean Streak) only brings fuel to the fire – the crowd’s singing along is almost deafening. Mean Streak is getting a big share of the set list this evening and the two next songs comes from that album. First up is “Take You To The Limit”, a song I have only found ok on record, but live it grows into a beast and “Hang ’em High” is a heavy metal boogie monster on record but live it’s lethal. If you’re not a Y&T fan and this tune doesn’t change your mind, I don’t know what will. “I Believe In You” (Earthshaker) might just be the ballad of all ballads – emotional, but raw and stripped and heavy. Of course, no Y&T gig is complete without it and it’s a winner this night as it has been every time they play it. “Contagious” (Contagious, 1987) is a song that, even though I have always liked it, has a bit of a sign-of-the-times sound on record, it was pretty clear that Y&T was adjusting to the current trends back then. But live it’s a Y&T classic rocker. Sure the “Hey, hey, hey” chanting and the “whoa whoa whoa whoa” singing might sound a bit dated now, but it really does its job in a live situation and the whole crowd comes along for the ride – what a live killer! Down For The Count (1985) is probably Y&T’s least loved album by the fans, probably because of the AOR vibes and the keyboard oriented sound and too many catchy pop “hits”, but in my ears it’s an underrated album. Despite that, “Summertime Girls” (it’s beyond me why it never became a huge hit back then) seems to be really appreciated when they play it live. It always gets the crowd going and it’s no different this night. It might be a bit cheesy, but cheese isn’t always a bad thing – Y&T could write some really killer cheese. “Rescue Me” (Earthshaker) is the last number tonight – before the encore, that is – and it’s another one of those must-play songs. It’s a rock classic that every rocker in the world should be familiar with and for this lot, it’s impossible to fail with the track.

When the band comes back they do it with another newie, “I’m Coming Home” (Facemelter) but this time it feels like everyone knows the song. Why, I don’t know, but the reaction from the crowd is just as good as their classics gets. This fast rocker can be seen as a sister song to “Forever” and the nerve and the attack from the band is contagious (sic!). They continue with “Open Fire” (Black Tiger) and it really kicks up some major dust. It’s an aggressive hard rocker that punches you in the gut and makes you gasp for air when it’s done. I can’t figure out why the song is being left out of their set from time to time – it sure is one of those that belongs in the set every night. The set ends with “Forever” (Black Tiger), maybe Y&T’s most popular song and the crowd loses it completely. That song might just be the best show closer ever written and by that we say goodbye to Y&T for this time. But as Dave said, “maybe we’ll see you in the summer” so I guess Y&T are playing Sweden Rock Festival next summer. Let’s hope so.

What is it that makes Y&T such an amazing band, then – well, apart from the fact that they have released 12 albums and none of them are even close to being bad? Well, after seeing them live seven times it’s pretty clear that these guys truly loves what they are doing, you don’t travel around playing smaller places after being around for 40 years if you don’t love it – and I’m sure it rubs off on their audiences. What really bugs me is that after all this time is why more rockers hasn’t discovered this band. I mean, what’s not to love with high quality songs, brilliant musicians (you should hear the backing vocals of Nymann and Leigh, they don’t miss a note and it’s not very easily sung. And no, not one single backing track is to be found here) and a band sweating it out night after night just to kick your ass? Also, their old songs, no matter from which era they’re from, nothing sounds the least dated. Sure, the production on some of their older albums might leave some to be desired, but their songs are all ageless. If you haven’t given this band a shot before, then make sure you get a ticket the next time they are in your town. They deserve it and so do you!

P.S. Why not open the door to Down For The Count in the future? There are a lot of songs on that album that could breathe a new life in a live situation. “Anytime At All”, “Face Like An Angel” and “Looks Like Trouble” could all benefit from a new, heavier arrangement and “In The Name Of Rock” would be a killer opening track. Just a suggestion. D.S.

10/10

Facemelter review

Setlsit:

1. On With The Show
2. Lipstick And Leather
3. Don’t Stop Runnin’
4. Dirty Girl
5. Mean Streak
6. Don’t Bring Me Down
7. Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark
8. Lonely Side Of Town
9. Blind Patriot
10. I’ll Keep On Believin’ (Do You Know)
11. Black Tiger
12. Midnight In Tokyo
13. Take You To The Limit
14. Hang ’em High
15. I Believe In You
16. Contagious
17. Summertime Girls
18. Rescue Me

19. I’m Coming Home
20. Open Fire
21. Forever

Photo: Hanna Henrikson