Well, I can’t talk , unfortunately, about the real yesterday…those fabulous Yardbird years of the 60’s and early 70’s. But I can talk about the Yardbirds in 2005 and 2017.
I saw the Yardbirds in 2006 at Seattle’s Showbox Theater downtown on 1 st Avenue. Matt Taylor and I were working at KBSG Radio in Seattle and he noticed the Yardbirds were playing at the Showbox. We had recently seen the band Supergrass there. I was totally up for going to see the Yardbirds, one of my favorite classic rock bands. So off we went.
The band members in 2005 were Gypie Mayo on guitar, Jim MCarty on Drums, Chris Dreja on bass, and John Idan on vocals and guitar. They tore the Showbox apart.
McCarty and Dreja were the two original
band members participating in the show. Paul Samwell Smith, the original bass player, and Keith Relf, the original singer, have both passed away. Two other original members, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton, chose not to join the show.
It was one of the best rock shows I’ve ever seen, especially in a small venue.
Gypie, another older fabulous British blues rock/blues guitarist, was a great fill in for Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. He had the right attack and the right tone, and certainly incredible ability.
John Idan could sound uncannily close to Keith Relf, the Yardbirds original vocalist and harp player. The Showbox
offered a few tables to sit at. It had a large open space in front of the stage that allowed many people to stand and hear this incredible version of the Yardbirds. There were also a lot of younger people attending this show.
Shift now, if you will, to June 4 th 2017 scene of the Triple Door theater in Seattle. The first thing you see once you enter the theater is a sea of gray hair, with a few younger people sprinkled around. Now the Triple Door is a pretty classy, sit down theater to watch a concert. It’s a very small venue with every seat an incredible exposure to the band and stage. The older Yardbird fans like the comfort and safety of the Triple Door.
Whereas the Showbox was a poorly lit , very basic rock house. At the Triple Door, you could even watch the show while enjoying a very nice dinner in very comfortable chairs.
The band members were Johnny A (Peter Wolf and Bobby Whitlock) on guitar, bass was Kenny Aaronson (Bob
Dylan and Billy Idol), Myke Scavone (Ram Jam and the Doughboys), Jim McCarty on drums, and guitar and singing John Idan. Myke Scavone added some incredible singing and harmonies, plus some fabulous harmonica playing. Johnny A played some powerful guitar and Jim McCarty was his usual incredible self on drums.
Chris Dreja’s health problems prevented him from joining this tour. And John Idan came back from living in Germany to be their awesome lead singer. Also , we’ll give more praise to Kenny
Aaronson for some really outstanding bass playing.
The Yardbirds rocked the Triple Door for an hour and a half of non-stop hits and out-of-this-world playing. What a pleasure to hear again rock music played with wild abandonment by some truly gifted musicians.
They entertained and worked their asses off to leave the crowd begging for more, and, of course, doing an encore of two more songs…”I’m a Man” and “Dazed and Confused”, the last song also played by Led Zeppelin.
The current Yardbirds answered all my questions. Can a band come back to Seattle 12 years later with a few new members added and still put on an amazing show? They most certainly did. Not only did they bring back the usual great memories, but the Yardbirds answered the question “Are there still some top notch musicians who can play the hell out of their instruments out there”?
Yes, there is. There truly is, Virginia.