Sunday, 29 January 2017

Tyketto - Bristol Review

Tyketto are one of those bands who came along a little too late to really make an impact. Towards of the end of the 1980s there were lots of new melodic rock/AOR/hair metal bands formed in the wake of the giants of the genre's stadium-filling success, but they were all soon sadly chewed up by the onslaught of grunge and a changing musical and commercial landscape. One of these bands was Tyketto, who were formed in New York 1987. Despite releasing the acclaimed album Don't Come Easy in 1991, which brought them success and recognition both at home and abroad, the band endured a tough time from record companies and eventually called it a day in 1996. Various one-off reunions followed, and since 2008 there has been a permanent line-up of Tyketto out there touring again. There have been a few different members come and go during this time, but Tyketto has been held together in this time by founding members Danny Vaughn (vocals/guitar/percussion) and Michael Clayton (drums/vocals) who started the band together all the way back in 1987. 2012's Dig in Deep showed the band could still write great melodic rock songs, and their latest opus Reach, released last October, was extremely well-received and was included in many publications' Top 10 Albums of the Year. Tyketto have always been popular in the UK, so a tour to support the album's release was scheduled for last December, but a myriad of sad personal circumstances meant the tour had to be pushed back to January. This actually worked out well for me, as I was unable to make any of the dates on the original tour, and the fact that the rescheduled Bristol date fell on a Saturday made this gig an obvious choice. The venue was the Thekla, a converted boat moored in Bristol's Mud Dock is certainly a unique venue and a new one for me. I was worried that the confines of a boat might not make for the best live music venue, but the Thekla turned out to be a surprisingly good venue with an excellent sound system and a decent-sized stage for the size of the venue.

Before Tyketto's headline performance however the growing crowd was treated to half an hour of music by local band Pixi Encore. Being fronted by two ladies who sung most of the set in harmony together instantly set the band apart from many of your average support bands, and the two ladies added rock guitar over a jazzy rhythm section to create very interesting songs. Apparently they are usually joined by a violinist too, which I am sure would have added more to their sound, but she was absent from this show so they set had a more stripped-back rock vibe. Most of the songs were pretty poppy with prominent vocal lines, but some of the guitar work was surprisingly rocky with some decent riffs and even a few solos thrown in. While Pixi Encore are certainly not the sort of thing I would listen to, their quirkiness and strong songwriting stood out. Many of the songs had catchy choruses and, while the crowd seemed to take a while to warm to them, they probably made a few new fans with this strong performance. I also have to say that I thought their drummer was fantastic, with a real jazzy understated style that was reminiscent of those big band drummers of the 1950s!

After a fairly quick changeover, the lights went down and the crowd erupted. By this point there was quite a sizeable audience in the Thekla and the vast majority of those there were clearly dyed in the wool Tyketto fans who knew every word to very song! Crowds like this always create a fantastic atmosphere, and this one was no different with the fans getting behind every song played, old and new alike! The show started with a bang with Kick Like a Mule from the new album which is driven by Chris Green's (guitar/vocals) guitar riff and is one that allows Vaughn to really let rip vocally. While Vaughn is the obvious focal point of Tyketto, there were many moments throughout the evening where Green managed to steal the spotlight! My only previous experience of Tyketto live was a great show in 2014 in Wolverhampton which was one of Green's first with the band when he was filling in for founding member Brooke St. James. Now Green is a full member of the band, and his confidence has grown in spades since that show three years ago. He is a monster player, and the next number Wings certainly showed this as he played those tricky little riffs and lead breaks with ease. All five of the band's albums were represented in the set (even 1995's Shine which only Clayton of the current line-up actually played on) and there was a good balance of old and new throughout. Faithless from Dig in Deep was an early highlight and has one of the band's best choruses. It was sung back at the band with real passion by the crowd. In fact this, followed by the soaring new number I Need it Now and my personal favourite Tyketto number Burning Down Inside was probably the best part of the night! Burning Down Inside was another one that was loudly sung by the crowd, and from Ged Rylands' (keyboards/vocals) keyboard intro the place went wild. While this was the high point, the whole set could realistically be classed as the evening's 'high point'. There were no weak links in the set, with the band putting 100% into every song feeding of the crowd's energy. The new album's title track came across really well live, and the old power ballad Standing Alone was a small respite during a high-energy set and one that was beautifully received. The final new number played, Big Money, really came alive on stage. Green's guitar riff came roaring out of the speakers and Vaughn sung the politically-charged lyrics with genuine venom. Lay Your Body Down, the main set's penultimate number, turned into a real workout for the band. The crowd really got behind the choruses, and this seemed to spur the band onto even greater heights. The band's newest member Chris Childs (bass guitar), although he is someone that needs no introduction to British rock fans, took centre stage during it for a lengthy and explosive bass solo that seemed to leave even some of the band shocked. The set came to an end with the melodic Love to Love from Dig in Deep which was also extended with a lengthy outro solo from Green, where even breaking a string did not stop him from shredding his heart out! Despite the fact the curfew had been reached, there was of course time for one more and the band came back out for their signature song Forever Young which was of course greeted with huge cheers from the crowd and ensured that an already-triumphant set was brought to a strong close. The setlist was:

Kick Like a Mule
Rescue Me
I Need it Now
Burning Down Inside
Meet Me in the Night
Dig in Deep
Standing Alone
Catch My Fall
Let it Go
Big Money
Lay Your Body Down
Love to Love
Forever Young

While the show three years ago in Wolverhampton was great, this show eclipsed it! The current line-up seem really locked in with each other now, and the energy created on stage showed this and really brought a reaction from the crowd. Vaughn said from the stage that they would be coming out to the merch desk after the show, but the security saw fit to eject everyone from the venue almost straight away which was a real shame. However, I managed to get Green, Childs, and Rylands' autographs on my copy of Reach outside the venue but it was too cold to stand around and wait for the others - maybe next time! Vaughn also hinted that Tyketto would come back to the UK at the end of the year, so I hope that turns out to be the case.

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