First though, a fairly unmemorable set from support act, The Jokers. Their sound lies somewhere between AC/DC and the NWOBHM, but the problem is that there are an awful lot of bands in that subsection of rock, and the Jokers really don’t have the chops or the personalities to stand out. The fact that the only memorable part of their set was a workmanlike cover of ‘Communication Breakdown’ says it all, really.
This Y & T tour was supposed to be about celebrating the 30th anniversary of their mighty ‘Black Tiger’ album, and they were billed to be playing the album in full. As Dave Meniketti announced early on, plans were changed and although they played a lot of the album, this turned out to be mostly a straightforward Y & T show, if there is such a thing. Despite the change of the plan, the intro was ‘From The Moon’, which introduces ‘Black Tiger’, only for Meniketti to walk on stage and realise he’d forgotten his wireless guitar unit, to general amusement. A quick bit of work by his tech, the intro was restarted, and the band more than made amends by tearing into ‘Black Tiger’ with enough force to knock a hole in the wall of the Slade Rooms.
The band have always been an incendiary unit live, but the opening three song salvo of ‘Black Tiger’, ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Open Fire’ was as good as anything I’ve seen on a stage this year. You could almost have decided to go home then, and still felt you’d had your money’s worth. It wasn’t surprising that the band couldn’t keep up that level of ferocity, but when they slowed things down a little, it was good to hear more rarely played songs like ‘Don’t Want to Lose’. But then when they decided to crank it back up, they gave us an absolutely colossal version of ‘Dirty Girl’.
That set the pattern for the rest of the show. If they did slow things down at all, or play something slightly less familiar, including a couple of songs from their most recent album, ‘Facemelter’, it wasn’t long before they turned it back up to ten, as when they followed ‘Rhythm or Not’ with a ‘Midnight In Tokyo’ that nearly took the roof off, or near the end of the show, when an instrumental highlighting Meniketti’s blues talent was quickly followed by ‘Hurricane’. In turn, that was ended with a Mike Vanderhule drum solo, before the band rounded the main set off with a version of ‘Forever’ that, if anything, was even more immense than what had gone before.
One of the great things about this band, is that they come out determined to give the audience a good show for their money. Tonight we had just over two hours of the highest quality hard rock, with Meniketti even apologising for not being able to play all of ‘Black Tiger’ because of time constraints, and I remembered a past show at JBs, when they were still going strong after two and a quarter hours, and only stopped because the backline waved the white flag. They ended this show with an encore of ‘Forever’, and an absolutely terrific gig had come to an end.
They always used to call James Brown ‘The Hardest Working Man in Showbiz’, but compared to Y & T, he strikes me as being a bit of a slacker. They don’t believe in frills or fancy lightshows, just a show packed full of superb music, and a band giving everything to the music and the crowd. Great gig; great, great band.