I am not sure if Y&T has ever played Boise, and neither is frontman Dave Meniketti. The lead singer and lead guitarist of the iconic Bay Area rockers asked the crowd of 500 or so that jammed into The Knitting Factory if the band had ever played there. The answer came back as a resounding no, though I am not sure if that is accurate, I know they have not been to the Treasure Valley in at least a decade. Based on the size and enthusiasm of Tuesday night’s crowd, half of whom had never seen the band live before, Y&T needs to make Boise an annual stop. Meniketti agreed.
Y&T, which formed in 1974, holds a special place in my own heart and history. After watching the band perform at my high school in 1979, a period when the band was transitioning from Yesterday and Today into Y&T, I immediately went to my creative writing and English teacher and asked to join the school newspaper. I have been writing about music ever since. So if you hate my writing, blame Dave Meniketti for subjecting me to you.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to see Y&T numerous times, including their 1985 Civic Center show in San Francisco and their 1991 Oakland Omni show, on what was thankfully not their intended Farewell Tour. Despite viewing the band a dozen times over the years, I had yet to see a performance as exhilarating as the display Meniketti and Company put on Tuesday night at The Knit.
Guitarist John Nymann started off the set with the opening riff of “Hurricane” from Y&T’s 1981 release, Earthshaker. Mike Vanderhule’s drums kicked in, and his tone was dead on perfect. This was followed by Brad “Swagger” Lang’s chugging bass, and Meniketti’s wailing lead guitar. From the opening notes, the band’s sound was dialed in, and they sounded effortless and locked in. “Black Tiger”, from the band’s seminal 1982 album of the same name followed next, and the crowd wasted no time feeding into the frenzy.
Meniketti told the crowd from the outset that the band would not be doing some puny, 60-75 minute set, but assured the fans who had been waiting so many years to see them that a two-hour-and-fifteen-minute set was in the offing. The guys spread out the set-list, pulling tracks from all eras of the band: They jumped into the 1987 album, Contagious, for “L.A. Rocks”, the title track, and during the encores, the opening verse and chorus of “Eyes of a Stranger”. From their more obscure 90s efforts they tuned up “Voices”, “Cold Day in Hell”, and “Sail on By”: The latter was dedicated to their sound man.
The crux of the night’s set focused on their four early 80s albums, Earthshaker, Black Tiger, Meanstreak, and In Rock We Trust; which accounted for 16 of the show’s 24 songs. Tracks like “Lipstick and Leather”, “Rescue Me”, “I Believe In You”, “Midnight in Tokyo”, and “Don’t Stop Runnin’” resonated with the howling, fist-pumping fans. The band’s two and three part harmonies were delivered flawlessly.
The guys dug deep for more obscure tracks like “Take You to the Limit”, and a stirring rendition of “Winds of Change”. They sent the crowd over the top with a raucous version of “Barroom Boogie”, and Nymann and Meniketti traded a bluesy jam in the middle of “Dirty Girl”. Y&T provided a ballsy edge to their hit song “Summertime Girls” and they closed the main set with the vintage sound of “I’m Coming Home”, taken from their most recent studio album, Facemelter.
Nearly two-hours into the show, and Y&T showed no signs of slowing. They returned for a lengthy encore which included taking crowd requests. I thank Dave for acknowledging my pantomimed call out for “Hang ‘em High”, even if they didn’t play it. They brought the show to a close and the house down with a five-song encore that included fan requests of “Rock & Roll’s Gonna Save the World”, “Open Fire”, and “Forever”. By the time the band and crowd were left sweaty and spent, Y&T had delivered a two-and-a-half hour set: Even more than promised.
It seemed like it had taken forever to get Y&T to Boise, and everyone I talked to in the crowd after the concert raved about how amazing the show was and every one of them were hoping Dave Meniketti sticks to his call of returning to Boise on a yearly basis from here on out.
While it seemed Y&T gave Boise a little extra after making us wait so long to see them, anyone who knows the band understands that this is a typical night for the guys: Two-plus hours of hellacious, no frills, riff and melody driven hard rock, by seasoned performers who love what they do. Every member of the band wore a wide smile the entire show. Maybe they gave us an extra song or two, but this is what Y&T has done every show, every tour, for over 40 years. This is why the band remains one of the most underrated of all time, and for those who finally saw Meniketti perform, they now know Dave is right up there among the top 10 rock guitarists to ever strap on a 6-string. He is also one of the most recognizable and dynamic vocalists in rock, and his voice sounds as powerful as ever.
I would be remiss not to mention our hometown heroes, Midline, who got the crowd pumped up, and delivered a fantastic set of their own.
Thank you to Y&T for finally getting to Boise, and as always, big thanks to Gary Pike and the Knitting Factory staff for making us all feel like extended family.