Gig Review: TYKETTO, Bonfire, Summers – The Garage, Highbury, London, 18 March 2014

TYKETTO - The Garage, Highbury, London, 18 March 2014

Tyketto must be high on the list of ones that got away. The East Coast melodic hard rockers released a debut album of stunning quality in 1991 only to be stymied by lack of record company promotion and the Nirvana-led shifting of the musical tectonic plates that year.  However it did win the devotion of a loyal following to this day (more in Europe than in their homeland it would seem), meaning that this tour represented their 25th anniversary.

A healthy crowd was in attendance at the Garage for one of the strongest bills of this genre for some time. South Coast rockers Summers kicked it off and made a favourable impression on a crowd generally old enough to be their parents.

Summers - The Garage, Highbury, London, 18 March 2014

Crash Summers, with a shock of blond hair, is a confident frontman and they showed the raw energy of a pre-Hysteria Def Leppard with catchy songs like ‘Superhero’ and ‘Lets Go Round’.  Other influences I could spot included Ratt, Firehouse and the Leppard wannabes such as Tobruk I used to champion at the Marquee in the mid eighties.

With gang backing vocals and guitarists Joedy Rose and Jason Sepala, despite their utterly contrasting images, combining well, notably on ‘Sometimes’,  their sound appealed to me and with the right breaks they must be aiming at the market that the likes of the Treatment and Reckless Love have already cracked.

Bonfire’s presence was a bonus as the seasoned German rockers  would at other times be headliners in their own right. Their own style influenced a whole generation of European melodic hard rockers,  perhaps ironically given Claus Lessman’s love of America, demonstrated here in his Ramones T-shirt and confederacy waistcoat.

Bonfire - The Garage, Highbury, London, 18 March 2014

They started slowly and guitarist Hans Ziller took some getting used to with his newly shorn hair, but they warmed  the crowd with a pair from Don’t Touch the Light – ‘Hot to Rock’ and the title track- and ‘Never Mind’ and ‘Fantasy’ from their undoubted classic Fireworks.

‘Sword and Stone’, which was less familiar to me and introduced by Claus as having been a soundtrack, was a classic with a chorus that screamed Desmond Child, followed by the White Lion-esque ballad ‘Give It A Try’, but what seemed like a near 10 minute drum solo killed momentum.

As soon as it was restored with the stately majesty of ‘Under Blue Skies’ and Hans cranking out the riff to their best known song ‘Sweet Obsession’, the clock had run out and while enjoyable their set ended with a nagging sense this wasn’t one of their vintage performances.

TYKETTO - The Garage, Highbury, London, 18 March 2014

As Tyketto hit the stage to one of the stone cold classics from Don’t Come Easy, ‘Burning Down Inside’, I was somewhat disappointed given that singer Danny Vaughn has in the past said they would only tour under the name with all four original members – guitarist Brooke St James had not made the trip.

However, this actually proved to be a blessing in disguise as his replacement Chris Green  of Pride and Furyon fame played with all the feeling but with added fire and actually added a new dimension to the sound.

The first two albums naturally featured heavily but it was pleasing how comfortably songs from the recent comeback album Dig In Deep nestled in the set with the passionate ‘Fearless’ a song to rank alongside their best, and ‘Here’s Hoping It Hurts’, driven by a swirling keyboard intro from Ged Rylands, instantly catchy.

Old favourites ‘Seasons’ and ‘Sail Away’ demonstrated the driving mix of acoustic and electric guitars that made their sound stand out so much, and I was delighted to hear choice cuts from the second album such as a mellow ‘End Of The Summer Days’, ‘Meet Me In The Night’ and, later in the set, ‘Catch My Fall’.

TYKETTO - The Garage, Highbury, London, 18 March 2014

The seemingly ageless Danny Vaughn can never have sung better, with his years in Eagles covers bands perhaps enhancing his ability to carry a tune,  and his passion that sometimes spills over into anger was generally channelled in the right direction, other than a rant against celebrities during ‘Sound Off’.

Introduced  as his favourite song, the title track from Dig In Deep saw drummer Michael Clayton Arbeeny attacking his kit with a Bonham-esque thunderousness, as he and Chris combined to make for a Tyketto heavier than I can ever remember them, while after a teasing shot of Guns n Roses the guitarist also gave ‘Lay Your Body Down’ some extra oomph.

Danny emphasised that it was fan reaction that had kept Tyketto going over the years and heartfelt ballad ‘Standing Alone’ was the prime example – indeed during a powerful rendition even by their standards I imagined that with the right breaks it could have had the same status as a live anthem as Bon Jovi’s Dead or Alive.

TYKETTO - The Garage, Highbury, London, 18 March 2014

After a surprise with a cover of Grand Funk’s ‘Some Kind of Wonderful’, Michael playing the Don Brewer role by singing the verses before Danny harmonised on the choruses, they closed with the timeless ‘Wings’, which will always be a  near perfect melodic rock anthem.

Tight to the curfew, they still slipped in the acoustic interlude of the ‘Last Sunset’ before the inevitable closer of ‘Forever Young’, perhaps melodic rock’s signature song and the storming atmosphere was like being at one of the rock clubs of days of yore where this song was always a guaranteed dancefloor filler.

The major success they deserved may never come their way, but on this evidence this revamped Tyketto line up is sounding better than ever.

Review by Andy Nathan
Photos by Dawn Irwin

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