Y&Tremendous. This might have been an 80s nostalgia fest as Dave Meniketti and his merry men did their very best impression of every band from Whitesnake to Leppard and Van Halen to Saxon but it was delivered with supreme aplomb. Missed this? You missed out.
If you only know Y&T for their Baywatch anthem Summertime Girls then at least you know they can pull off AOR classics for fun. In reality there’s so many more strings to Meniketti’s bow than Steel Panther-esque hair metal parody and this incredible night amply proved the point.
Perhaps this gig, more than any other, was meant to make a statement. A year earlier Y&T had rolled into Newcastle with Meniketti full of flu and unable to sing – or at least sing like he can. He made a pledge that night to return firing on all cylinders and a packed Academy crowd was treated to the full apology.
From the off Meniketti acted like a man possessed – clocking in before 7.45pm he beat the 1opm curfew with ease and his determination drew warm applause from a typically boisterous Geordie crowd. That such a prompt start meant many of the assembled throng missed the outstanding Fury UK was the only downside to an otherwise remarkable night.
Hard Times, from 1990’s Ten, offered early evidence that this would be a hard rock show to remember and from that point forward a ridiculously high standard was set and, for the most part, maintained. Don’t Wanna Lose bridged the gap between soft metal and power ballad – with the crowd in full voice and emotions running high – while Shine On, from comeback album Facemelter, hinted at a more mellow, soulful Meniketti.
As frontmen go Y&T’s bombastic leader is something else. Mimicking Coverdale, Hagar, Elliott and even Tyler at various points during a stellar set, his range is truly remarkable. Never quite reaching the blues rock vibe underpinning so many Whitesnake classics and lacking the focused power of Van Halen’s post-David Lee Roth fare, Meniketti nevertheless possesses pipes which should have provided the platform for far greater commercial success.
A poignant tribute to long-time bass player and founder member Phil Kennimore, in the shape of Facemelter standard If You Want Me, could have killed the momentum of a breakneck show. Instead a well-judged tribute to Y&T’s cancer-stricken rhythm king simply added to the belief that this was a special night shaped by special people.
Dedicating I’m Coming Home to the Newcastle fans he let down, Meniketti was soon roaring his way through Hurricane and entering into the Leppard-esque, chart-busting classic that is Summertime Girls. It still sounds fresh today – even without Pamela Anderson’s bikini-clad body offering the visual complement to an aural treat.
Encore classics Forever (It even sounds like Kiss) and Rescue Me added polish to a shiny, happy set oozing old school cool and it became clear this would be a night set to go down in rock folklore. Yesterday and Tomorrow.