I must have been living under a rock all these years. It took a client of mine to introduce me to this criminally underrated group. One sunny afternoon in Woodlake, my client, a guy in his 40s, showed off his vinyl collection while his step-daughter (also a metal-head) was blasting Lamb of God’s “Laid to Rest” on their stereo. You have to understand, Woodlake is a little ville near the foothills, known as a back-water rodeo town. In this town you’re either listening to country or ranchera. So this household was like a dark, metallic mecca for those of us with a love for chunky guitar riffs, double bass drumming and screaming vocals. So in this glorious pile of records were LPs by Journey, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath…and Y&T. I was like, “Hey man, who’s Y&T?”
I found out they were Californians from the bay area who influenced the likes of Kirk Hammett and Joe Satriani. Now I HAD to see this group live. Guitarist/vocalist Dave Meniketti is only remaining original member, however the sound of this newer version of the group is more than faithful to the original lineup. It’s melodic hard rock: tunes that are easy to digest, with thumpin’ grooves, powerful riffage and accessible melodies all in the same package – GOOD rock n’ roll. The rockers are energetic and fact paced while the slower tunes have a bluesy edge to them. Dave Meniketti has to be one of the most overlooked guitar masters of all time. AND he’s a kick-ass singer too. So not only can he play his ass off on guitar, but he can sing his ass off as well. You can hear Hendrix in his playing and you can also hear contemporary metal in their too. As for his singing, Dave is an olympian singer, able to do extraordinary things at his age that few singers in their 20s can do. He has this open, throaty, bluesy croon…equal parts Graham Bonnet, David Coverdale and Ronnie James Dio.
The theater was almost full and the crowd was very supportive – the valley rockers came out in force, fists raised and chanting “Y AND T! Y AND T!” The group got the party started right away, opening with two of their signature anthems, “Mean Streak” and “Don’t Stop Runnin.” Wow, what great riffs and vocals. This one-two punch was an awesome way to begin the show. I came in as a curious novice. After these two songs I was pumped and immediately won over – another fan chalked up for the Y&T army.
Dave said that the group was celebrating 40 years of making music since January 1974, cheekily saying “f*ck me, good thing I joined the band when I was 3!” Dave was very appreciative of the Fresno crowd, thanking us for coming out and saying “fuck it, we’ll do this another 10, 15 years so long as you guys keeping coming out.” The mix and live sound were absolutely PERFECT. There was lots of low end, never distorted or overbearing. The drum kit was practically singing, the kick and snare coming in with definition and presence, shaking the theater and powering the group nonstop. There was plenty of thump with a healthy amount of tone from the bass drum as well as mid range crack from the snare. The cymbal work was great too, with plenty of swells, rolls and intricate little patterns played by Mike Vanderhule, and the song endings were all extended showcases of musicianship by the group and vocal acrobatics by Dave. The guitars and bass all sounded great, crisp and clear. It never fails, someone is usually too high in the mix or using too much distortion, but not these guys. John Nymann on guitar was superb, as was Brad Lang on bass. AND they could actually sing, fleshing out the harmonies, providing great backing vocals for Dave. About Nymann and Dave’s guitar parts, I could hear their distinctive parts perfectly and they shimmered with clarity. Either the acoustics of the Tower Theater made for a magical sound, or these guys and their crew know pro audio and live sound engineering like the backs of their hands. Like I had mentioned about Dave’s vocals, they were fiery and bluesy, soaring at times then coming back down for husky growls and throaty howling. As a first timer I was very impressed by this group’s talent, energy, and love for playing live. This incarnation of the group has been together a while, and their interplay and performance was flawless, without a single clam. They’ve been doing it for years and they can probably do it in their sleep. Dave has taken good care of himself health-wise, he’s preserved his voice and I’d believe it if he practices several hours a day. Great singing, great chops, great group. Y&T constantly tours and they seem to hit California every February. Go see them again? Don’t have to ask me twice. The setlist was something like the following and by no means complete or in order, I’m still fairly new to this group.. I’m convinced that Don’t Stop Running was the second selection played. Corrections welcomed.
Don’t Stop Runnin
Lonely Side of Town
Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
Midnight in Tokyo
Winds of Change
I Believe In You
I’ll Cry For You
I Want Your Money
Lipstick and Leather
Thanks to Claudine for the following pics. Great Blondie shirt by the way 🙂