The old theatre in Buckley is re-establishing itself on the live scene with the current management staging gigs once more. Back in the glory days of the late 1980s there was a regular rock night and many name bands stopped off at this venue in a small, otherwise unassuming town in Flintshire. Legendary San Francisco rockers Y&T called here for the first time in their long history on this tour, and the gig attracted a healthy audience. An encouraging sign both for the future of this kind of thing here, and also for the upcoming rock nights which are shortly to be relaunched at ‘The Tiv’.
The old place is showing its age somewhat nowadays, the faded décor lends itself well to exactly this kind of event. Although a smallish theatre, it boasts a decent-sized stage and offers reasonably good views even further back, and is a good place for a live gig.
I arrived as openers Lawless were nearing the end of their set, they are nothing to do with Blackie but are a five-piece hard rock outfit hailing from Staffordshire. There were already a good number of punters on the floor for these guys, although they’re clearly a very accomplished live band with very good lead and backing vocals, they weren’t really my cup of tea.
After the openers exited the stage a selection of rock classics came through the PA, there was a DJ on the booth and this seemed to be some sort of taster as to what to expect when the new rock club night starts. They were quite quick in setting up the stage for Y&T, and the band arrived on stage at an unusually early time of 8:50. They wasted no time in getting the crowd rocking, opening with ‘Hurricane’ from their classic 1981 ‘Earthshaker’ album. Early, on, frontman Dave Meniketti observed that this was Y&T’s first visit ‘to this part of the world’ and asked the crowd who present was actually local. The muted cheers from a small pocket of punters elicited laughter from the singer/guitarist, as he realised many had travelled from the surrounding areas to this show. He was in jovial form throughout, with banter between songs involving himself and the crowd or himself and his bandmates.
The band tour the UK and Europe every autumn nowadays, as they have found they have a loyal following on these shores who turn out year after year. There hasn’t been an album of new material since 2010’s ‘Facemelter’, but that matters little to the audience who have come to hear the old favourites. Y&T have enough of a back catalogue to be able to change the set around from year to year and still play the songs people want; they even granted two requests during this set, performing ‘Lipstick and Leather’ in the main set, and in the encore, throwing in ‘Winds of Change’. There was still room for classics such as ‘Rescue Me’, the guitar showcase ‘I Believe In You’, and of course ‘Forever’. As usual, Meniketti was in excellent form both with the guitar and with the voice, for a man of 61 he is in fantastic shape and still has ‘it’- he’s in as good form today as he was in 1984, when yours truly first saw the original band at Donington. Incidentially, that day they were billed higher than Mötley Crüe – this week, the Crüe were also touring but were headlining huge arenas on their farewell tour, while Y&T made their regular stopoffs at the smaller venues. Y&T have always been more of a down-to-earth, honest rock band though, even though they paved the way for many other (arguably less talented) bands to break through during the hair metal years.
Meniketti’s current line-up of guitarist John Nymann, drummer Mike Vanderhule and bassist Brad Lang were once again excellent, solid playing and superb backing vocals. If you were not familiar with this group you’d be forgiven for thinking these guys had been part of the band all along, they really do gel that well. After a set that must have totalled two hours they finally took their bows.
This is a defiantly old-school, old-fashioned rock band who still command a great deal of respect, and are well worth catching when they come to your area.