There aren’t a lot of bands still playing who were pioneers in hard rock and heavy metal, but Y&T is one of them and when they come around, I want to catch the show. I was happy to get the chance to see them in concert at the Gas Monkey Bar N’Grill in Dallas on February 10. I haven’t heard much about them lately as they’ve taken two hiatuses in the last few years and toured in Europe quite a bit. I remembered a few songs, though, from my early hard rock days and YouTube reminded me of a few more songs to get me in the mood to revisit my long-haired youth.
The early-arriving crowd packed the newly-enclosed lower area at GMBG to get a good view, but Nic in Security and Tom the Sound Guy set me up behind the sound booth, a great place to catch a concert. Nic always treats us well and the sound and light guys do an amazing job of making the band sound even better.
The Y&T band members filed out, with singer and lead guitarist Dave Meniketti saying, “Y’all doing well tonight?” while strumming a few licks to get in the mood and then straight into “Black Tiger.” Dave’s voice sounded as good as it did when I first heard them in the early 70’s. The dedicated crowd was into it from the first note and was kept energized by John Nymann on rhythm guitar and Brad Lang on bass who were having fun onstage. “LA Rocks” was straightforward rock and roll and John had a ball leading the hand clapping song. I think he enjoyed the music just as much as anyone in the audience.
“Lipstick and Leather” sounded like Tommy Lee could have written it for MÖTLEY CRÜE, but, again, Y&T predates them, METALLICA and MEGADETH – true pioneers. Mike Vanderhule got some love as he showed his drumming chops as well. That merged into “Don’t Stop Runnin’” which had a much heavier, but still an REO SPEEDWAGON vibe to it, showing a great diversity in their abilities as musicians.
John and Brad jammed behind Dave’s rocking solo before joining a three-guitar synchronicity. A slower ballad, “Voices,” and “Shine On,” from the Endangered Species album showed that Dave M. is a tremendously underrated guitarist, a feat he proved many times over the night.
They stopped to tell the reason behind the next song, “Mean Streak,” being about a bitch (“No other way to put it,” Dave said) who hung around the band so much longer than she should have before she got the hint. As much as everyone likes love songs, a good hate song also makes for some damn good rock and roll. “Dirty Girl,” with its penetrating lyrics and excellent music showed that some bands have as much talent as the million sellers, but unfortunately aren’t in a higher tax bracket. One of my favorites, “Midnight In Tokyo,” was an introspective song written while they were in Japan.
It fused some jazzy rock and a ballad-turned-jam into a great song. “Take You to the Limit” showed the singer still has the chops to sing slower love anthems. “Cold Day In Hell” and “Long Way Down” from the 90’s showed their change to heavier metal as the headbangers got the chance to loosen their neck bones and whip their hair to the beat. Everyone loved the hard guitar licks to finish the songs. They changed gears and slowed it down with “I Believe In You,” with its extra-long Carlos Santana-sounding jam that Dave absolutely played from his soul. This was worthy of being the encore in itself, but there was still more to come.
The band was really in the moment for “Hang ‘Em High,” a hard rock song from the 70’s. Brad got the chance to show off on bass and took full advantage of the opportunity. A request from the audience was for another favorite, “Contagious,” with its long and encompassing solo that didn’t just kick ass, it kicked everloving ass. There’s a difference. I can’t imagine them playing a concert without it.
Most people would have needed oxygen after that musical fireball, but Dave shouted, “Get your hands together,” and launched straight into my ex-wife’s theme song, “I Want Your Money.” He introduced the hit song, “Summertime Girls,” that made us feel like we were enjoying the 80’s and was perfect for all the Dallas girls in the crowd.
Dave told another great story of how “Rescue Me” wasn’t even going to make it onto an album until they had second thoughts about it. It goes to show how easily a great song can be dismissed as it turned out to be one of their most popular songs around the world. It started as a ballad, then a chord change turned it into hard rock and a unanimous crowd participation finished the set, but the audience wasn’t going away.
A short break of cheering brought Y&T back out for an encore. “Don’t Wanna Lose” was a slower song and the enchanting lyrics turned it into a sing-along. Then came everyone’s favorite, “Forever.” It’s the type of charging song that could lead you into battle. An excellent solo preceded a fantastic jam to end a night of music that took me back through several decades of enjoying hard rock.
Y&T has built a solid following over their many years of hard rock and heavy metal. With 12 studio albums (18 including live and greatest hits), they have something for everyone’s musical tastes. Considering the time they’ve been together as a band, they’ve had relatively few lineup changes and this version is very comfortable playing together. Dave Maniketti has been the glue in the band and still gives everything he has for every concert. They bring the energy and their fans absorb that and raise it a notch so that everyone is caught up in the music and the night. You know you’ve been to a rock and roll show when you leave one of their concerts.
Thanks again to Nic of GMBG for her help and Tom of the Y&T sound crew for his assistance. It takes a lot of people to put on a great concert and we had that in spades!
LIVE WORDS: DAVID SIMERS
LIVE PHOTOS: GUZPIX