I’ve been a Y&T fan since I picked up the band’s 5th Studio release Mean Streak back in 1983. The cassette did not leave my player for weeks. I quickly went back in the band’s discography to discover Earthshaker and Black Tiger and I was hooked. The California Bay-area band formed in the mid-70’s as Yesterday & Today (shortened to Y&T in 1980) and had released 4 records between ‘76 and ‘82 before I stumbled upon them in ‘83. Right out of the gate my ears were attracted to this no-frills, straight-ahead bluesy hard rock band with stellar guitar playing and emotional vocal deliveries. At the time I did not have the opportunity to see the band live because they did very little touring in the Southeast region where I grew up. I continued to follow the band and buy their records still enjoying the majority of everything I was hearing.
Fast forward to 2016 and I see the band finally has a tour date in a small Atlanta club. I was not going to miss this. I pick up the tickets and headed to the show. They were playing a club across town I was not familiar with, so I assumed like most clubs it would be a late show with a local opening band so we stopped for dinner. Dinner proved to be a mistake because the band went on very early and we ended up missing half the set by the time we arrived. Color me pissed off!! That being said what we did catch impressed me. The band sounded great given the age and the length of time the band had been touring. Even though they were not all the original members, the entire band were seasoned veterans.
It’s 2017 and lo and behold, Y&T are returning to an even better venue located in downtown Atlanta. This time, I knew I’d be on time and even early if needed. Local rockers Kickin’ Valentina, who reminded me a bit of Little Caesar, opened the show. They were a weathered straight ahead gritty rock band who had no doubt trodden the stage boards before. I did not know the music, but I thought they gave a solid performance. I probably would have enjoyed it a bit more if I knew their tunes. They did a good job as an opening act, but make no mistake I was there to see Y&T. As anticipated headliners, Y&T started on time for what would become a complete 2 hour set through the band’s history.
Y&T hit the stage and literally “throat-punched” the crowd into submission with “Lipstick & Leather” followed by “Don’t Stop Running” and “Hurricane”, before stopping to take a breath. Lead guitar player, vocalist and sole surviving member Dave Meniketti along with rhythm guitar player John Nymann, bassist Aaron Leigh, and drummer Mike Vanderhule ran through the following 2 hours with precision and force. One of the things that struck me about this version of the band is how well they all sang. They did a great job nailing down background harmonies and vocals which can at times be a bit challenging given this band’s extensive catalog.
The band continued to move through classics like “Mean Streak”, “Black Tiger”, and “Midnight In Tokyo” along with new favorites like “Blind Patriot” and “Shine On” from the latest release Facemelter. Aside from a few minor guitar/amp issues which the guitar tech quickly resolved for Meniketti, I thought the band played and sounded great. The band covered many periods in their history, playing catalog favorites like “Hang Em High”, “Contagious”,and “Summertime Girls,” before finishing up with 3 encores which included a surprise “Hungry For Rock” from the Earthshaker record, crowd favorite “Rescue Me,” and rounding out the set with “Forever”.
In an era where concert tickets can cost $100 to $200 bucks, I appreciate when I can see a great band with a rich Rock ‘n’ Roll history like Y&T for $25 and they give the crowd an energetic 2 hour set to boot. I love live music and in particular live Rock ‘n’ Roll, so I find this to deliver kick-ass value when everyone is scratching for entertainment dollars.