With the last remaining original member Jim McCarty still at the helm behind the drums, the legendary Yardbirds celebrated the 50 year anniversary of one of rock music’s most exciting albums, Roger the Engineer. Recorded in just 7 hours, the justifiably top 100 All Time Album was released a half century ago this very week, and the sounds and attitude were not just perfectly preserved, but expanded upon to make the evening not a museum piece, but a timeless collection of sound and energy.
The team of McCarty with Johnny A/g, Kenny Aaronson/b, John Iden/g-voc and Myke Scavone/perc-harp delivered hints of the original band throughout the evening, as some of the guys looked and were coiffed like Beck, Relf and Page. The irresistible mix of Chicago blues, American pop, boogie, rich vocal harmonies and Indian exoticism teamed with McCarty’s swinging yet patented militaristic groove was in full glory during the 1 ½ set. And even though the same band was here less than a year ago, the focus on the single album made the set almost completely anew.
Vintage top 40 hits like the fervent “Heart Full Of Soul,” the peppy “Over, Under Sideways, Down” and sensuous “For Your Love” satisfied lovers of melody, while the guitar heads were completely satisfied with Johnny A’s guitar work. Covering all three eras of the band, and combining elements of Clapton, Beck and Page with his own sound, Johnny A seared through a “Muddy Water” with a mix of long-held notes and string bending workout on the earthy “I Ain’t Got You” while Scavone’s harp wheezed with delight.
Aaronson’s bass rumbled like an avalanche with McCarty on a slithering “Lost Woman” while the roomed steamed up on “Smokestack Lightning.” Iden’s voice was rich and strong, able to achieve a liturgical effect on the moody “Still I’m Sad”, emoting anxiety on “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago’ and sounding raucously defiant on the irresistable stop-start shuffle of “I’m Not Talking.” Closing with the iconic “I’m Confused” (later popularized by the spin-off band Led Zeppelin) and boogying with encores including “Train Kept-A Rollin’” a slash and burn “I Ain’t Done Wrong” and the genre-defining “I’m A Man,” McCarty and his Yardbirds proved beyond doubt that music from the past can sound timeless, just as today’s present music can sound instantly dated.
John Kay w/ Steppenwolf Sept 10, Robben Ford Sept 17 and Ottmar Liebert Sept 23