ARCHIVE POST: Caught Live: Tyketto, o2 Academy Liverpool 25 July 2015

Ronnie writes: I have rediscovered some of the posts from my previous music blog and will post these to the new site periodically. 

What’s in a name? That was a question I asked myself as I entered the o2 Academy to find the lower floor very busy and packed with punters, all out in anticipation of this gig from 90s melodic rockers Tyketto. You see, just a few short months ago I was in this same hall, watching Danny Vaughn, the very same guy who fronts this band, play an acoustic show before an audience best described as ‘selective’. That night, he was appearing with Dan Reed and the two gave an excellent, very intimate show performing each other’s favourite songs plus a few choice covers. But that show almost didn’t happen, as slow sales threatened its cancellation (at least according to Vaughn, via a post on his Facebook account.) However, fast forward to the summer and here are all the people who missed out on that show, to see a Tyketto line-up featuring only Vaughn and drummer Michael Clayton Arbeeny from the classic line-up. So what gives? It certainly appears that the name as a brand is all-important in this day and age, since without an established name as the hook it doesn’t seem to matter how good you are, you’re not going to draw in the punters.

I’d missed local openers Rain May Fall by the time I got there, I’ve seen those guys once before and they are good, so will look out for them again some other time. The main support were Norwich outfit Bad Touch, whom I saw earlier in the year support The Answer at East Village Arts Club, and they impressed me enough for me to grab their album at the gig. There were plenty there to see these guys, and they gave another good account of themselves. Their music is steeped in old-school British hard rock and they do know how to get a crowd involved, with vocalist Stevie getting many hands clapping. He’s a good singer, although well backed by drummer George and rhythm guitarist Seeks. Their Zep influence was acknowledged toward the end of their set, with a cover of ‘Ramble On’. They went off to big cheers, an excellent reception for a support act from a crowd mainly there to relive their younger days.

An even bigger cheer erupted once Danny Vaughn emerged to start Tyketto’s set, it mattered little who was alongside him to this crowd. However I was surprised to see one familiar face, that of Thunder bassist Chris Childs alongside guitarist Chris Green and keyboardist Ged Rylands. The band rattled through the early part of this set, belting out terrific song after terrific song, with fan favourites such as ‘Burning Down Inside’, ‘Rescue Me’ and ‘Meet Me In The Night’ all served up early on. When the singer did pause to speak to the crowd, he threw in a surprise by introducing ‘Shadowland’, a song from his own solo band. He prefaced it by saying that the guys in the band ‘graciously’ gave that one the thumbs-up, but it actually fitted in perfectly with the rest of the set, mostly comprising songs from the band’s first two albums but also a few from 2012’s reunion album ‘Dig In Deep’.

The biggest surprise was still to come however, as the band elected to perform a track from third album ‘Shine’. All the more surprising, since Danny Vaughn didn’t actually sing on that record! He dedicated ‘Let It Go’ from that album to Steve Augeri, who was the singer on that album and they did a fine rendition of it, but could you imagine, say Deep Purple of today playing ‘Burn’ or ‘Stormbringer’? I know I couldn’t, so this was a very unexpected surprise.

As always, Vaughn was in excellent voice and needed to be, in order to deliver all those favourites live. One somewhat cheeky moment came when he asked for (and got, of course!) some crowd participation. He made it clear that he doesn’t ask for the crowd to sing because he can’t do it any longer, demonstrating that before giving the audience its turn. I’m at a loss to think who he could be getting at, though (!) Some more favourites followed, such as ‘Wings’ and ‘Standing Alone’ closed out the main set. For the encore, they performed ‘The Last Sunset’ acoustically, with drummer Michael Clayton Arbeeny coming out from behind the kit to join in on vocals. Needless to say, the final song of the evening was rock night favourite ‘Forever Young’.

Whatever guise Danny Vaughn performs in, he never fails to deliver the goods. He spends so much time in this country that we really should be thinking of giving him British citizenship, but on the evidence of this showing he’s welcome back in the UK (and to Liverpool) any time.

ARCHIVE POST: Caught Live: Joanne Shaw Taylor, Citadel St Helens 11 July 2015

Ronnie writes: This is a post taken from the archives of my previous blog (now offline) and I will periodically post old content as and when time permits. 

British blues-rock guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor (often referred to by her initials ‘JST’) is one of those artists I had never quite got around to until now. She’s been around the scene for several years now, and has toured with some major names, including as support to Robin Trower earlier this year, and, in a big coup, headlining with none other than Whitesnake legend Bernie Marsden as her support act last autumn.

This gig, at the very intimate Citadel in St Helens, was JST’s second visit to the venue, and is part of a tour in support of her current album ‘The Dirty Truth’. The venue was close to capacity, with an audience mainly comprising guys around my own age. The same sort of crowd that was following Joe Bonamassa when he burst onto the scene almost a decade ago, and not the sort of crowd that is easily impressed by flash, brash newcomers. JST is hardly the kind of performer to go for flashy presentation; dressed all in black and with minimal stage dressing (just a backdrop with her name on it in large letters), she came onto the stage flanked by just two guys, bassist Tom Godlington and drummer Oliver Perry. They’re a solid enough rhythm section, but stay firmly in the background allowing JST the lion’s (lioness’s?) share of the spotlight.
Were she merely a singer, she’d be considered a major talent in her field still. But she is also an immense talent with a Les Paul (or Telecaster) in hand, wowing this hard-to-please crowd of middle-aged blokes who’ve seen it all with blistering solo after blistering solo. Even when she prefaces a song saying that ‘we’re gonna take it down a bit now’, she still builds it up into a climactic crescendo.

JST is a triple threat; a voice that evokes the great blues shouters of decades gone by, a guitar talent that is up there with the likes of Bonamassa and a prolific songwriter. She tends to play ‘fingerstyle’ guitar and to see her pick some complex-looking fills out while singing at the same time was a real treat. Another thing that caught my eye was her tendency to break out into a huge grin while ripping out solos, as though she’s surprising herself at what’s coming out of the guitar.

This was as soulful and fiery a performance as the one I saw Beth Hart give at the Philharmonic recently, but while the American star sang with occasional piano, leaving the hard-hitting riffs to her two guitarists, all of this was provided by Joanne Shaw Taylor with only a rhythm section behind her.

There’ll be another chance to catch JST live in the area this autumn when she plays at Liverpool’s Epstein (formerly Neptune) Theatre in October. I’ve already booked for it and would urge anybody with a taste for bluesy rock guitar to get themselves a ticket. By rights she should be a major star, had she been around 40 years ago I’ve no doubt she would be.