2016 was meant to be a big year for Tyketto as they both celebrated the 25th anniversary reissue of their classic ‘Don’t Come Easy release and an excellent new album ‘Reach’, the first with a new line-up of the band. It was also tinged with sadness as serious family issues forced the postponement of their winter tour, but happily it was rescheduled.
Indeed a healthy crowd, many like me enjoying the opportunity to catch up with gig buddies for the first time in 2017, were in attendance at the Islington n Academy. The band benefited from a more elaborate stage set up and sharper sound than at the Camden Underworld which has tended to be the usual Tyketto London venue.
Indeed this was a double bill of the best in melodic rock with a very classy 45 minute set from Romeo’s Daughter, still fronted by the never changing charms of the affable, raven haired Leigh Matty.
Their set was a new filling in a sandwich of oldies: after rocky openers with ‘Heaven in the Backseat’- the gang backing vocals a reminder of their early association with Mutt Lange- and ‘Attracted to the Animal’ with a typically concise solo from Craig Joiner, they played a series of tunes from their reunion albums ‘Spin’ and ‘Rapture’.
While more in a modern pop-rock mould designed to garner radio 2 airplay, the catchy quality of the country rock sounding ‘Bittersweet’ and the up-tempo ‘Alive’ surged through in particular.
It was then back to the old days with ‘Inside Out’ featuring a crowd singalong, and a contrasting closing duo that showed them at their best- a slinky, sensual ‘Cry Myself To Sleep At Night’ was pure class, and ‘Wild Child’, famously picked up on by Heart, proved that despite their polished image they can rock out too.
Classics they may be, but Neil Young’s Greatest Hits was a strangely mournful choice of interval music rather than something more uplifting, However the atmosphere soon lifted when a taped intro heralded Tyketto’s arrival and they fairly ripped into new song ‘Kick Like a Mule’, as if proving a point about the new line-up, though for the early numbers the bass sound was too high before settling down.
Just two songs in, ‘Wings’, one of Don’t Come Easy’s opening holy trinity, came perhaps too early in the set for a full audience reaction, but the melodies in the chorus and the ‘who-oah’ outro outdid even Journey, while ‘Rescue Me’ was one of several I enjoyed more than usual, not least with guitarist Chris Green giving the band some added fire and looking the part with his flailing hair and low-slung black Les Paul.
‘Reach’s predecessor ‘Dig In Deep’ is now viewed as a relative disappointment, but far from being airbrushed from history, they kept three songs in the live set and they all came to life, with ‘Faithless’ having some almost pomp like keyboards from Ged Rylands allied to a typically passionate Danny Vaughn vocal, while later the title track saw Tyketto as heavy as I’ve ever seen them, driven on by some colossus-like drumming from Michael Clayton Arbeeny, whose ponytail and whiskers gave him the air of a bikers club steward.
Old and new alternated seamlessly in the set, with the classic ‘Burning Down Inside’ rapturously received together with the underrated pair from 2nd album Strength in Numbers of ‘Meet Me in the Night and Catch my Fall’.
But it was just as interesting as a long-time fan to see them tackle the new songs for the first time – ‘I Need It Now’ had an intro that reminded me of Y and T’s ‘Black Tiger’, and a bluesy groove which even saw Danny getting people to click their fingers rather than the usual sing or clapalong, while ‘Reach’ combined some brilliant guitar and keyboard interplay with a melodic, almost country-tinged hook from Danny that was a reminder that he also moonlights very effectively in one of the top Eagles tribute bands.
The Tyketto frontman is also a man unafraid to pour out his heart, sometimes in song, such as on the emotional ‘Standing Alone’ which benefited from a more powerful treatment in a larger venue, and sometimes with his garrulous between song comments.
On this occasion, as he regaled us with anecdotes about his early days with Waysted supporting Iron Maiden and the bond formed with fans on Tyketto’s debut tour supporting White Lion, it was clear he is a real anglophile and in return the band seem to have a much higher profile in the UK than their native USA-if indeed they can still be called such with three-fifths of the band now British.
He also seems mellower than in the past and more at peace both with Tyketto’s legacy in the rock pantheon and with the wider world, though he did make a well-placed jibe at the ‘orange clown in the White House’.
With new product and acknowledged classics to play, no-one expected to hear a song from ‘Shine’, their 1995 album with Steve Augeri. Only one of the band played on the original of ‘Let It Go’ but with Danny pushing his voice well beyond its natural range, the band moving about the stage and Chris producing some heavy duty soloing, it was a revelation and ‘Big Money’ continued to confirm the impression that this line up is the heaviest yet under the Tyketto banner.
However the atmosphere did need some lightening, which came with the looser grooves of ‘Lay Your Body Down’, with Chris Childs emerging from the shadows he seemed to be bathed in to stylishly play some very funky bass grooves. It was preceded by an amusing anecdote in which Danny talked of his dream to write worthy, uplifting, stadium- ready anthems but Michel persuading him to write a song that would get the ladies to take their clothes off!
After band intros came a final surprise in another from ‘Dig In Deep’ in ‘Love To Love’-which built from a gentle number built on Danny’s acoustic guitar into a full-blown epic with an extended, rapid fingered solo from Chris. It wasn’t only the title that reminded me of UFO.
In a good value hour and 35 minute set, there could only be one encore in ‘Forever Young’- so much of a melodic rock anthem that rock clubs have been named after it- which inevitably saw a sea of fists punching the air to the chorus.
Tyketto’s one shot of glory may have passed 25 years ago but this superb show with a near perfect setlist proved that the current line-up is without doubt the finest of their career. Criminally overlooked for too long, I still live in hope that they gain the wider recognition their talents deserve.
Review and Photos by Andy Nathan
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