Having missed the gig that Y&T did at this venue in 2007 based on a scheduling conflict of me being somewhere else prevailing for the Metal way, I knew that I had to be inside the club tonight to see them perform especially since I couldn’t recall their even doing a show in 2008 in this region. Y&T is pure Old School Hard Rock the way it is meant to be and while I love bringing news about their appearances to the masses whenever possible, tonight was one of those nights that I was also planning on having a little fun at. The gig would be at the obvious choice of venues for such a band and that was none other than B.B. King Blues Club and the opening group for the night would be the School Of Rock All-Stars (you know whom I am talking about, they are those incredibly talented younger generation of musicians that are led by Paul Green). I’ve seen some configurations of these kids play on a few different occasions and am continually blown away by what they can do. If the future of Metal and Progressive Rock is in their hands then I will honestly say that the genres will both be around for a long, long time. Having just seen many of these young players perform a couple of weeks ago with lead guitarist and creator of “Metalocalypse” Brendan Small, I opted to pass on their set this evening to check out some of the pre-game meetings that were going on outside of the venue. We will talk about that a little later.
I made my way back to the venue just before 8pm because the band was set to start earlier than normal based on a later evening event that was being held here immediately after the band would finish. B.B. King’s often puts on later gatherings for a different musical fan base after many of the Rock shows have ended if you were curious about them. Immediately I was struck by the very visible lack of presence of the Hard Rocking fans that this band has and while I literally left a few dozen of them behind me when I rushed inside I had hoped that the earlier set time was actually believed as opposed to fans thinking that they would instead be going on at 10pm. One of the bigger fans seemed upset about this draw as he had been posting on the bands forums about the gig and stressing it would happen on time and even radio host Ed Trunk had mentioned this on his program (the DJ is a big supporter of their musical efforts as well). Fortunately the slight coronary being had by some of the earlier arriving ardent fans was quelled when the room started to fill up a lot better as 8pm came and went. The band wisely moved the set back about fifteen minutes and as result it seemed as though any latecomers had only missed a couple of introduction numbers.
Y&T seems able to deliver from the moment that they hit the stage and I guess this is part of the expertise that has been stacked up from doing this as a band for thirty six years. Of course it’s only founding members of Dave Meniketti and Phil Kennemore who remain from the original lineup with founding drummer Leonard Haze coming in and out of the band over the course of their career. His replacement since 2006 has been Mike Vanderhule who I think does a great job of the skin bashing that is necessary in Y&T music and building some extra musical foundation is John Nymann on rhythm guitar (he has been a member of the group since 2001). The set list for the evening was very exciting and was pulling out a lot of the tracks that I enjoy from the band and have kept a special place for in my musical heart. It seemed as though the bigger diehards were also impressed and as far as my eye could see were fist pumping rock fans of the band. Horns were up in the air on one side, and an ice cold beer was in the other hand. Now that is a rock and roll show audience if I ever saw one. The mood was high in terms of the overall energy levels and while the drummer might be on the new side to the lineup the audience was very receptive to him and didn’t seem to be giving him grief. The main man is of course Meniketti who still sings the songs with excellence and plays a ripping guitar. He is really one of the best out there and more people should be aware of that and try to catch the band when they come into town. Kennemore on bass is just the kind of guy you want in a band especially after doing it this long because he gives you a show as well. He is totally feeding off of the love from the crowd as he delivers the thunder and often poses for the perfect photo without missing a note. Dave talks to the crowd on a number of occasions and was impressed to see someone in the front wearing a shirt that he himself had worn in the “Summertime Girls” video from way back when. Of course it was not the exact same shirt, meaning the same one, but the design was the same. I might be wrong because in these days of rock memorabilia one never knows what people end up owning. Later in the set Dave would swap his shirt for a cool one that had “Y&T Forever – 35 years” written on it (talk about an accomplishment). The set ran about twenty two numbers and I think that I got them all down correctly, but was sad to find their being cut just a couple of minutes short due to the need to get the club ready for the next event. I know one song we missed out on was “Forever” and this is another one of my favorites so it would be the one downer for an otherwise really cool evening.
Another part of the evening that I had to say impressed me the most was the congregation of Y&T Fan Board members that had set up a pre-show meeting over at Smith’s Bar on 44th Street and 8th avenue This is a popular watering hole only a few short blocks away from the venue and seems to have become the quintessential “pre-game” spot for many B.B. King and Nokia Theatre concerts. To say that more than four dozen of the bands fans who primarily know each other from the online realm of the fan board and from other Y&T concerts were present would be a slight understatement - at one point I swore that there were about sixty people counted and each of them were headed for this show. It’s the kind of thing that reminds me of the sense of community a good Rock concert offers the fans of the band based on their common interest in supporting something that they love very much. You did your band proud by doing this and more fans should be setting up meetings to help strengthen the overall live music scene. Horns up to all of you, it was a pleasure to get to meet you and I guess I will see them all again when Y&T comes a rolling through town. Make sure you are one of the people that joins in if you are not yet schooled in what they do, it’s a satisfying evening that you will not soon forget.
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Official Web Site: www.meniketti.com
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