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Headbangers

Y&T in Southern California

By A Headbanger, Do You Bang Head?
Tuesday, September 29, 2009 @ 8:17 PM


Galaxy Theater, Santa Ana

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Reviewed By Charles H. Smith

As hard rock/metal enters middle age, it has become relevant to ask whether middle-aged musicians can continue to play hard rock/metal as well as they did when they started in their teens or 20's. Prominent bands like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest answer this question with a resounding "yes." Last Friday night, the Bay Area's Y&T, though not as well-known or brilliant as those metal giants, joined that exclusive group by delivering two-hour performance that featured high energy, musicianship and great songs.

Y&T began in 1974 and released several albums in the 80's with moderate sales. Old school "pure rock" KNAC listeners might remember catchy numbers such as "Contagious" and "Mean Streak." The band retired at the end of 1990 but revived their career several years ago. Led by original members Dave Meniketti (guitar/vocals) and Phil Kennemore (bass), the band plays dozens of gigs per year in the United States, Japan and Europe. Y&T now also features John Nymann on guitar as well as drummer Mike Vanderhule. The band is very "fan-friendly" and a quick visit to Y&T's website (www.yandtrocks.com or www.meniketti.com) reveals many positive anecdotes from devoted fans.

The Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana is a cozy club where you can enjoy a full dinner and watch the show from a raised booth, or you can stand on the dance floor close to the stage (as I did). The crowd was not large (maybe 300 people) despite its being a Friday night, though the crowd made up for lack of numbers with enthusiasm. There were a lot of older rockers like me in attendance but there were also a lot of kids (some with their parents).

Y&T has always had a reputation of being a killer live band and this show was no exception. Meniketti is a true shredder who gets everything out of his guitar. The boys maintained eye contact with the audience and often interacted with them with gestures and other greetings. Like any band that's been around for a while, Y&T has certain traditions like the "Fuck you Phil!" chant directed at Kennemore – who bears a slight resemblance to Steve Harris of Iron Maiden – before he took the mike to sing "Squeeze." The show has room for some humor such as when Kennemore criticized Menniketi for changing guitars frequently ("I'd like to change my shirt…the white one, please!). Long-time band associate Nymann fits in well and only serious fans would know that he just recently joined the band as a guitarist. Vanderhule gave a yeoman performance – including a great drum solo – despite that he is still recovering from a broken left wrist. And, of course, no Y&T concert is complete without the classic closer "Forever."

Psychic Mafia and Scarred opened the show. Psychic Mafia performs original material but is better known as "Metal 101" (a metal cover band). Don't quit your day job, guys, or at least try to show some energy when you play your own songs. Scarred had a slow, heavy sound and a very good stage act. They might be the headliners next time they play the Galaxy.

The main part of Y&T's American tour concluded the following night in San Diego but they will return for a few gigs in November (Petaluma, CA) and December (Las Vegas and Tempe, AZ). The band will also be on tour in Europe for about five weeks in October and November.

Friday night's set list (which varies slightly night to night) was:

  • From the Moon (recorded)
  • Open Fire (great opener as it is my favorite Y&T song)
  • Don't Wanna Lose
  • Lipstick and Leather
  • Don't Stop Runnin'
  • Mean Streak
  • Straight Thru the Heart
  • Lonely Side of Town
  • Down and Dirty (short jam by Dave only)
  • Hard Times
  • Black Tiger (another big favorite of mine; Dave made mock jungle noises in the introduction)
  • I'll Cry
  • Barroom Boogie
  • Summertime Girls
  • Contagious (open mike for the "whoa-oooh" chorus)
  • Looks Like Trouble
  • Squeeze (drum solo)
  • Forever
  • Rescue Me (encore)
Thanks to "mikel" for posting the set list on the Open Fire – Y&T live gig talk message board. I knew all of the songs but I did not remember some of the titles or the order of the songs.



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