The Yardbirds Turn Back The Clock At Vermont's Tupelo Music Hall

Publish Notes: 

The Compass Bellows Falls, Vt. Sept. 7, 2011

The Yardbirds Turn Back The Clock At Vermont's Tupelo Music Hall
The Yardbirds Turn Back The Clock At Vermont's Tupelo Music Hall
The Yardbirds Turn Back The Clock At Vermont's Tupelo Music Hall
The Yardbirds Turn Back The Clock At Vermont's Tupelo Music Hall

WHITE RIVER JCT, VT. - On Saturday night, legendary rockers The Yardbirds invaded the Tupelo Music Hall in White River Junction, entertaining a diverse crowd with their unique brand of "rave up" rock-and-roll, which was pioneering in the early 60's and helped shape what would become psychedelic rock and then heavy metal.

Photos by Joe Milliken 1. (l to r) Drummer Jim McCarty, guitarist Chris Dreja, bassist Dave Smale 2. Front-man Andy Mitchell 3. Smale and Dreja 4. Guitarist Ben King.

Although dually-noted as the band which helped launch the careers of guitar legends Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, this band was and is, much more than that. The Yardbirds were truly, one of the most original and influential bands of the era, creating several chart-topping singles with their psychedelic mix of blues, rock and pop.

Today's Yardbirds still feature two original members with Jim McCarty on drums and backing vocals and Chris Dreja on rhythm guitar and backing vocals. Front-man vocalist and harmonica player Andy Mitchell and bassist Dave Smale have been with the band since 2009 and guitarist Ben King since 2005. They are all fantastic musicians and certainly worthy of inclusion.

The band hit the stage around 8:30 and rocked through a 90-minute set filled with all the Yardbirds hits mixed with some rock and blues classic covers, but also a few Yardbirds songs which the band were essentially playing live for the first time.

The Yardbirds standards "I'm Not Talkin", "Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Sailor" and "Drinking Muddy Water" got the show rockin' from the outset, before the first curve ball was thrown - a song from the 1967 ,em>Little Games album titled "Lost Woman"... a track that had not previously been a part of bands 'live repertoire.

After the first big hit of the night, "HeartFull Of Soul", brought the audience to its collective feet, the blues-rock standard "Train Kept' A Rollin'" got those feet a movin' as Mitchell's harmonica and King's guitar traded off energetic solos.

Next, the Yardbird psychedelic classic "Shapes Of Things" was a dead-on take, before the hard-rocking "Think About It" developed into a smoldering, jamming roar by songs' end and arguably, this reviewer's favorite moment of the night… all highlighted by King's blistering guitar work.

Another hit ensued with "Over Under Sideways Down" before the next curve ball, the psychedelic jam "Glimpses". A Yardbirds' rarity originally recorded in 1966, the trippy track filled the room with echoing, harmonic chants, swirling guitars and the flickering lights of a mid-60's travel in a time machine.

When the dust settled, the set closed with the Howlin' Wolf standard "Smokestack Lightning", which nearly brought the house down. After a quick breather, the band returned to the stage for a rousing medley featuring (and arguably the Yardbirds biggest hit) "For Your Love", "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" and "Dazed And Confused" - the latter which Jim McCarty had previously announced as "the song that we were doing before Led Zeppelin."

A second encore produced another medley featuring the Yardbirds track "Evil-Hearted You" and the stomping, show-closing Bo Didley anthem "I'm A Man"… much to the delight of an endearing audience. The band also re-paid the gratitude, setting up shop after the show to sign CD booklets , photographs and a few album sleeves for the hardcore fans. Of course, my friend and I stuck around for that.

It was a great experience to enjoy a band I grew up listening to, but never imagined that I could see play live all these years later. McCarty and Dreja are true rock legends - with the Yardbirds having been inducted into the Rock- and-Roll Hall of Fame in 2003, mind you - and watching this band, breathing new life into these classic songs was really a treat. I even bought a t-shirt!