Y & T - The "Bruce Springsteens" of Heavy Metal

Herbie Herbert's Agenda

Several years ago, Backstage Auctions had the privilege of hosting an auction for legendary manager and entrepreneur Herbie Herbert, who is best known for ‘creating’ Journey by taking Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie with him from Santana (1973) and adding additional local San Francisco talent. While morphing Journey into the stadium giant that went on to sell 75 million albums, Herbert also had his eyes set on another local band; Yesterday & Today. Part of the auction was a set of Herbert’s personal agendas from 1974 through 1976, which gave a brilliant day-to-day insight of the infancy of both bands.

Vintage Backstage Passes
Once Herbert landed a record deal for Yesterday and Today, the umbilical chord was cut and both went their own way. The first two albums did very little but enter the “eighties” and Y&T (who had now shortened their name from Yesterday and Today) released arguably the three most epic rock albums from that decade in succession; ‘Earthshaker’ (1980), ‘Black Tiger’ (1982) and ‘Mean Streak’ (1983). Growing up in Europe I never had the opportunity to see Y&T in their prime and – as with so many other bands – they eventually became a (fond) memory.

Fast forward to August 11, 2010. As sponsor of the Houston Music Awards, Backstage Auctions attended the award ceremonies at the ‘Warehouse’, where co-owner Kelli van Gool presented the ‘Best Heavy-Metal Band’ Award. Leaving the venue later that evening, my eye caught the illuminated billboard, which read ‘Fri. Aug.13 - Y&T’. Needless to say, I couldn’t pass that up. Knowing that the original line-up had been decimated to its backbone (Dave Meniketti – Guitar/ Vocals and Phil Kennemore – Bass), I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Not sure if “Friday the 13th” had anything to do with it, but as soon as I arrived at the venue, I learned that Phil Kennemore was replaced, due to surgery that week (Phil, we wish you all the strength and a speedy recovery).

Whatever doubts I might have had leading up to that point, they vanished as soon as Y&T set the tone for the evening with a sensational ‘Open Fire’, which is hands down one of the best rock songs to kick-off any show. Meniketti’s voice was as strong as it was 3 decades ago and his impressive skills had – if anything – improved. The entire band sounded tight, displayed joy and delivered – with an abundance of youthful energy – a set that included a selection from their most recent album (‘Facemelter’), rarities and naturally, all their classics such as ‘Hurricane’, ‘Mean Streak’, ‘Hang ‘em, High’, ‘Rescue Me’, ‘Dirty Girl’, ‘Black Tiger’, ‘Forever’ and the incredible ‘I Believe In You’ (with its superior crescendo that makes every rock band wish they wrote this song).

Dave Meniketti & Jacques van Gool
All this made for a fantastic evening, but was really struck me was that we were treated on a show that lasted close to three hours. Yes, that’s THREE with a ‘3’. I mean, here’s a band that’s been around for over 36 years, more or less “wings” it with a (fantastic) replacement bass player, charges a meagerly 13 dollars for a ticket and still gives you literally everything they’ve got. In a day and age where most concerts are deprived of spontaneity – at an often outrageous price – I realized that I just witnessed something very special. Less than 10 minutes after the show Dave Meniketti and co. came out to hang with an appreciative crowd, making sure that every fan had the opportunity to shake a hand, get something signed  or have their photo taken.

Yes, I still wonder what it would have been to see Y&T in the 70s or 80s but it’s hard to imagine that it could have been any better than in 2010. If you ever have the opportunity, please make sure that you too can witness this phenomenon. Trust me, it’s a privilege. Short of that, go to their website and pick up any of their outstanding albums (I know, it’s called CD but you….old school). Driving back home at 2 in the morning with a bucket list that was a name shorter, it occurred to me that if there ever was a Bruce Springsteen of Heavy-Metal, it’s called “Y&T”.

- Jacques van Gool, Backstage Auctions

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