Another gig that I left up until the last moment before deciding to attend, and I cut it rather fine when getting in to find the guys on and playing. As they were due on at 9pm and I had only got into the venue a few minutes later, I guess I didn't miss too much.
There must have been a substantial 'walk-up' crowd this night, since I was able to get a ticket on the door but once inside I found a very full Academy 3. Admittedly this is the smallest of the venues at Manchester University but still, a very good turnout for a midweek gig as acknowledged by singer/guitarist Dave Meniketti. Of the current line-up I recognised only him and bassist Phil Kennemore from their glory days of the 1980s; I've not really stayed up to date with this band and in fact this was only the third time I'd seen them at all, the first being an appearance at the 1984 Donington festival.
Despite that however, I knew almost all the songs played in the set. They'd obviously decided to concentrate on the fan favourites, and so the set was heavily weighted in favour of material from their early 80s heyday. So we got all the classics, including 'Dirty Girl', 'Mean Streak', 'Barroom Boogie', 'Hurricane' and an excellent 'I Believe In You', allowing Meniketti to showcase his more bluesy guitar style. Their only UK hit 'Summertime Girls' was delivered mid-set also; I know they had to play it but even so, it invokes uncomfortable memories of Jonathan King and his 'Entertainment USA' programme from the 80s (!)
Dave Meniketti impressed with some sublime guitar playing; he mainly sets his guitar to kill but when he chooses to, he can play with real subtlety and feel. His voice held up pretty well too considering he told the crowd he'd been hit by a bug just days before. He handled most of the lead playing but was backed well by fellow guitarist John Nymann, who did occasionally get a chance to show his own leads (unlike the Joey Alves days, who preferred to concentrate purely on rhythm)
Late in the set, bassist Phil Kennemore was given the microphone to perform 'Squeeze' from the classic 'Earthshaker' album; he and Meniketti were lauded with football-style chants but Phil chose to get the crowd to chant back 'F**k You Phil' – that, he explained, was because while on tour, he missed hearing that from his wife (!) There was a brief drum solo from Mike Vanderhule during this song but by the time it came, most of what we had come to hear had been played so it was not too intrusive.
There was not much in the way of stage banter from the frontman, the guys had a lot to get through and just got on with it. Consequently it sometimes came over more like a pub gig, but nobody came to hear Dave Lee Roth-style joking around. However, one request from the crowd to play 'Lipstick and Leather' was granted; they had obviously not rehearsed it and just about managed to busk their way through it, to big cheers.
The main set ended with 'Forever' before they came back to do just the one song as an encore, what else could it be but 'Rescue Me'. The night ended with Kennemore getting the crowd to chant 'F**k You Phil' some more, much to his amusement!
All in all then, an excellent gig; a throwback to the days when Metal was allowed to have melody and musicianship. The operative word being 'throwback'; that was the only thing that left a slight downer with me. The audience tonight was almost exclusively male 30/40-somethings, apart from one or two who were there with their fathers there were absolutely no younger fans that I could see. I cannot complain about the set being full of songs that are at least 25 years old either, since they all hold up extremely well and will probably still sound good in another 25 years (will we still be saying that about the latest hotshots... draw your own conclusions!) but, this show was definitely preaching to the converted. Maybe it's just me, but I really think bands such as this shouldn't be reliant on a fanbase that is ageing with them, they should be attracting new ones to go with the existing fans. I suppose you have to be a really massive name like AC/DC or even Whitesnake to do that but, if this kind of music is not attracting younger fans to rock then I dread to think how the scene is going to look in years to come. Surely it can't be as bad as the dark days of nu-metal... can it?!?