A month on from my last trip out for a live gig – Winterfylleth in Cardiff – and I find myself travelling down to the Welsh capital once more, this time for the larger venue that is the fairly recently opened Tramshed, just across the River Taff from the Principality Stadium.
A change from the recent extreme metal outings, this one was to see Californian hard rock legends Y&T – a band that I’d previously seen in Bristol way back in 1983 as my fourth-ever gig, when they were promoting the then-new album “Mean Streak” and were supported by the young up-and-coming band Rock Goddess.
The doors opened at 7:30pm and as I took up a position at the barrier stage right, I discovered via the wonders of social media that the unadvertised support act for the evening was to be local band Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters – a band completely unknown to me.
The charismatic and enthusiastic Beth Blade (vocals / rhythm guitar) led her band – lead guitarist Luke Strickland, bassist Nicko Goodwin and drummer Sam Brain – through a thirty minute set showcasing six of the tracks from their debut album “Bad Habit”, released earlier this year.
Opening for a long-established band such as Y&T, especially when the majority of the audience likely won’t have been expecting you, can’t be an easy ask for any fairly unknown act, but Beth Blade & The Beautiful Disasters were certainly up to the task of warming the crowd up nicely. Comparisons with the likes of Halestorm are perhaps inevitable for a female-fronted hard rock band, but wouldn’t be entirely wide of the mark either.
Blade herself looks to be a fan of Kiss mainman Paul Stanley, both in terms of the guitar that she plays and some of her onstage moves. Goodwin and Brain provide solid foundations and relative new-boy Strickland (I believe he joined the band subsequent to the aforementioned album) delivers the riffs and solos with great confidence and ability. A brief but very entertaining set indeed from a great young band that should go a long way…
1. Hell Yeah! / 2. Bad Habit / 3. Beautiful Disease / 4. This Bitch Bites / 5. Down And Dirty / 5. Hell In High Heels / 6. If You’re Ready To Rock
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 originally from “Bad Habit” (2017)
Once the support band had broken down their gear and cleared the front of the stage, the roadies for the headliners ensured that mic stands, pedal boards etc. were in place and that the various instrument levels were correct. Then, at approaching 8:45pm it was time for Y&T to hit the Tramshed stage on the fifth date of the UK leg of their “Open Fire” tour. With no new album to promote since 2010’s “Facemelter” recent tours have been celebrations of the band’s heritage. Naming this tour after their 1985 live album “Open Fire” (also the title of a song on their “Black Tiger” 1982 record) suggested more on the same theme.
And so it proved. As the lights went down the studio recording of the slow intro riff to “Black Tiger” began pumping from the PA and the band members – lead guitarist / vocalist Dave Meniketti, rhythm guitarist John Nymann, drummer Mike Vanderhule and bassist Aaron Leigh – filed onto the stage in time to take over when it was time for the song proper to begin. Thus began a rapturously received two hours of superb hard rock.
Meniketti sang and played like a man half of his sixty-three years, his searing solos (regularly peppered with his pickup selector switch effect) were simply sublime. Nymann spent the whole evening smiling whilst cranking out classic riff after classic riff and throwing a good few shapes while he was at it.
Latest recruit Leigh stalked the stage with his hat pulled low and his bass slung equally so and the powerhouse that is Vanderhule didn’t miss a beat – it’s fair to say that his solo spot just before “Rock & Roll’s Gonna Save The World” was one of the most impressive I’ve seen, not just technically but in terms of keeping the momentum going and keeping the crowd interested.
With twenty tracks aired there was a fairly decent selection of material from the band’s back catalogue. The lion’s share naturally enough came from their commercial heyday with fourteen tracks appearing from the four albums released during the period 1981-84. The only records to miss out were the group’s initial two and the three issued during the 1990s – though you could argue that 1985’s “Down For The Count” doesn’t, erm, count either as the single song played from that one, the hit “Summertime Girls”, was first released as the sole studio track on the aforementioned live “Open Fire” album earlier that year!
It may seem churlish to complain, then, about songs that weren’t played – such as “Midnight In Tokyo” or “Hurricane” perhaps – but I personally would have loved to have heard at least one track from 1990’s underappreciated “Ten” album, especially as the band did perform two numbers from Meniketti’s 2002 solo album. I guess, as sole remaining member of Y&T since 1974 one could argue that a Meniketti solo record is essentially a Y&T one but I’d still have swapped the pair for a couple of genuine Y&T songs.
Introducing the track “Winds Of Change” Meniketti spoke of his position as sole survivor, mentioning how it had been a difficult thing to come to terms with when the other three originals – Phil Kennemore (bass), Leonard Haze (drums) and Joey Alves (rhythm guitar) – who all played on those classic four albums – died between 2011 and earlier this year. I think the audience saw the song as a fitting tribute to his fallen comrades.
Highlights were plenty, but specifically for me would definitely include “Black Tiger”, “Forever”, “Mean Streak”, “I Believe In You”, the brilliant “Barroom Boogie” (it took me ages to master the drum part on that one back in the day) and the wonderful extended “Dirty Girl” featuring solo spots from both guitarists.
Goodness knows why it’s taken me thirty four years to catch Y&T live again!? The band have been making it to our shores roughly every two years recently and I hope they continue to do so for as long as possible. A truly excellent performance from a top-quality hard rock band…
1. Black Tiger / 2. Lipstick And Leather / 3. Straight Thru The Heart / 4. Dirty Girl / 5. Eyes Of A Stranger / 6. Mean Streak / 7. Lay Me Down / 8. Storm / 9. Winds Of Change / 10. Masters And Slaves / 11. Hang ‘Em High / 12. I Believe In You / 13. Contagious / Drum Solo / 14. Rock & Roll’s Gonna Save The World / 15. Summertime Girls / 16. Barroom Boogie / 17. Squeeze / 18. I’m Coming Home / 19. Rescue Me / 20. Forever
1, 9, 16 and 20 originally from “Black Tiger” (1982) / 2, 10 and 14 originally from “In Rock We Trust” (1984) / 3, 6 and 11 originally from “Mean Streak” (1983) / 4, 12, 17 and 19 originally from “Earthshaker” (1981) / 5 and 13 originally from “Contagious” (1987) / 7 and 8 covers of Dave Meniketti songs from “Meniketti” (2002) / 15 originally from “Open Fire” / “Down For The Count” (1985) / 18 originally from “Facemelter” (2010)