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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Y&T:THE OPIUM ROOMS DUBLIN NOVEMBER 11 2014.

Dave Meniketti
If there were awards being handed out for the unsung heroes of rock, then the name Dave Meniketti should without doubt be top of the pile.  The only remaining original member of Y&T, his talent as both guitarist and singer is nothing short of brilliance.  For two and a half hours, the man from Oakland, California gave the Dublin crowd a relentless masterclass.  A dedicated crowd of classic rockers thronged to this tiny club to witness a band celebrate 40 years of ball breaking rock.

9.15pm, Meniketti and co take to the shoe box of a stage and rip into Hurricane from the 1981 album Earthshaker, immediately laying down a statement of intent.  Black Tiger and LA Rocks swiftly follow to raise the decibel level.  The mainly age mature audience get a bit of respite as Meniketti struggles to tune his battered Gibson.  But normal service quickly resumes as Mean Streak hit the crowd firmly between the eyes. Being one of Y&T's signature tunes, everyone except the barman, fist pumped with genuine passion.

A lot of high-fives ensued when the opening chords of Midnight in Tokyo were sung.  I remember my older brother spinning this in my parents backroom 31 years ago, and it's impact still resonated with this crowd today.  I must admit, it pisses me off that generations of so called music lovers don't know this gem.  Meniketti's tuning problems continue, but it only adds to the intimate atmosphere.  While tinkering with his axe, he enlists drummer Mike Vanderhule to tell a couple of dirty jokes.

Surrender, Eyes of a Stranger and the wonderfully suggestive Contagious are played with military precision.  This is largely due to the skills of rhythm guitarist John Nymann and bassist Brad Lang.  Drummer Mike Vanderhule is no slouch either, his thunderous beats give Y&T a bruising backbone like no other.  Lonely Side of Town was a major highlight for me, not because the song strikes any particular chord with me.  The reason being, from the moment the band struck their first chord, an over exuberant fan beside me, high on hops and yeast was roaring for the song. Don't get me wrong, I loved his passion, but he was shouting for it incessantly, like a parrot on speed.
John Nymann(left) and Dave Meniketti
A rare rendition of All American Boy goes down a storm, while Summertime Girls injects a real feel good factor, with it's 80's rousing chorus.  But the real money shot was set closer I Believe in You, with both Meniketti and audience totally getting lost in the heart wrenching guitar work.  This was a perfect example of this man's sincerity, passion and astounding talent.  On returning for the encore, Meniketti reminds club management, that on arrival, no food was laid on for the road crew, and that this entitled them to break curfew,damn right.

A near breaking point crowd still sang Don't Wanna Lose and closer Forever like rock Armageddon was afoot.  This was my first time seeing Y&T live, and while I headed home having had a stonking night, an empty feeling remained.  The simple reason being, after 40 years of releasing great music, Y&T have never been truly rewarded, and have always been the bridesmaid.  Look at the likes of Ratt and Motley Crue, both great bands, but are they better than Y&T, not a fuckin' chance.  In the height of the 80's rock/metal domination, Y&T regularly tested these bands PA as a support act, yet the massive headline tours always eluded them.

But their fans have never drifted, they are one of the hardest working bands around today, their blue collar approach to their music and performance rubs off on their audience.  A great night of pure classic rock.  Long live Y&T.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

JIMMY TO GET THE "LED" OUT........and about bloody time!!

Jimmy Page 2014
1988 was a notable year for a lot of things.  The first transatlantic fibre optic cable was laid, Bruce Willis was sexing up the vest in Die Hard, Barbie was a virgin, and Michael Jackson was a whiter shade of pale.  It was also the year that one James Patrick Page released his one and only solo album, Outrider.  Quite a bizarre statistic, considering this is a man who has probably influenced 95 per cent of the worlds guitar player population.
Outrider album 1988
It is now approaching the seventh anniversary of Led Zeppelin's triumphant reunion show in London.  An extremely fortunate 20,000 people packed the O2 arena that night to witness, without doubt,the greatest reunion show of them all.  But what followed was a tidal wave of speculation as to whether the remaining surviving members, along with drummer Jason Bonham, who replaced his late father John Bonham on the night, would perform live again. With Page, John Paul Jones and Bonham, having been open to a world tour, a reluctant Robert Plant was never keen.

With the release of Plant's new album, Lullaby and..... the Ceaseless Roar, and Jones tinkering with an opera, the likelihood of a reunion are now marginally slim at best.  So what of the present activities of Mr Page. Having spent a sizable chunk of his post Zep career remastering the bands classic albums, the west London guitar god is once again now ready to unleash his genius upon us.  Now in his 70th year, the news will be greatly received by his worshippers the world over.  Having stockpiled a wealth of material over the years, Page has been cagey with his answers as to what direction his new music will take.  Our breaths are growing increasingly bated.
Zeppelin 2007 O2 Arena  London
Despite the lack of Jimmy Page headed product, he never drifted down the reclusive route.  1985 saw him team up with  Free and Bad Company front man Paul Rodgers to form The Firm.  Two well received albums were released, The Firm (1985) and Radioactive (1986).  After disbanding, Page went alone, and released his first solo album Outrider.  Teaming up with old friend Robert Plant, vocalists John Miles and Chris Farlowe and sticks man John Bonham, it featured the brilliant single Wasting My Time (sung by Miles).  The album performed well, peaking at #26 in the US Billboard Albums Chart.
Page with The Firm 1993
Coverdale/Page album 1993
Then in 1993, Page surprised the rock world by releasing an album with Robert Plant's feuding partner, David Coverdale.  No love is lost between the pair, with Plant comically referring to him as David Cover-version, and Coverdale saying "I wouldn't send him cat food if he was starving".

Nevertheless, when the acrimonious dust settled in 1994, Page and Plant reunited for MTV Unplugged, and subsequently released No Quarter:Jimmy Page and Robert Plant Unledded.  Containing Zeppelin gems like Nobody's Fault But Mine, The Battle of Evermore and Kashmir,  it achieved platinum success in the US.  A highly successful tour followed, thus giving the guys a renewed vigour, which resulted in the recording of Walking into Clarksdale.  An album consisting of entirely new material, including Please Read The Letter, which Plant later re-recorded with Alison Krauss on the their collaborative album Raising Sand in 2007.

1999 saw Page team up with southern rockers The Black Crowes, for the double live album, Live at the Greek:Excess All Areas.  Recorded over two nights, it was basically Page and a cover band, as the majority of the tracks were Led Zeppelin classics.  But vocalist Chris Robinson, and the rest of the Crowes, performed majestically.  So much so, a co-headline, North American tour with The Who followed.  Despite Page and Zeppelin receiving a glut of accolades, things were relatively quiet on the Page front.  Until that monumental night in London in 2007.
Now with Page having finalised the remastering of iconic albums Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy, he's now ready to go it alone again.  The music world needs legends like Jimmy Page active, I personally think he and his bands work should be on every school curriculum the world over.  Zeppelin's music still continues to permanently embed an imprint on peoples lives worldwide.  I'm proud that not only me, but my two young children are awaiting Jimmy Page's next move.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

DEVILSTRIP:RISE.



When I think of brilliant, three piece rock bands, straight away the likes of ZZ TopRushCream and Motorhead spring to mind.  These are all bands who emerged in the 60's and 70's, and, with the exception of  The Winery Dogs, nothing is really turning my head at the moment.  But having just discovered this power trio from Ohio, my luck has definitely changed.

Devilstrip's debut album Rise, incorporates melodic rock brilliantly blended with hard edged riffs.  Right from the opening track, Not What You Need, you immediately get the impression that this isn't your average weak boned trio.  This is a powerhouse of a song, played with rhythmic intent. The bass led verses of Go, quickly ascend to a bombastic chorus.  A perfect choice for a single release.

If your partial to a bit of funk driven rock, then you'll love Including Me, featuring grimacing vocals from Marc Wasmund.  Also, some throbbing drums from Jimmy Gray.  The nasty riff work on Are You Ready, compliments this melodic gem perfectly.  This is a song that is sure to take on a new life when played live.  Kill The Headlights(Roll) ups the speed of the album to an explosive pace, featuring a Steve Harris like, galloping bass line from Graig Lingren.


Opening with a delightful orgy of silky riffs, To The Enemy, is a mixed bag, integrating metal, grunge and rock elements.  The Alter Bridge like Ugly is one of the stronger tracks on the album, a brilliant melodic chorus following engaging verses.  This song delivers on every level.

The only real criticism I have of Light Up The Room, is that it just isn't as meaty as the previous tracks.  It's by no means a filler, but it doesn't get me off  my seat.  Any hint of negativity is firmly put to sleep on the haunting Love, Hate, Die.  Wasmund's vocals put a classy stamp on this arresting track.  Closing track She Said, is the nearest thing to a power ballad on the album, but it retains enough grit and macho emotion to lose that tag.

So if you love discovering new rock bands who are making music a little bit left of centre, you're not going to do much better than this.