Photos By Arnie Goodman
Huge crowds lined Times Square and 42nd Street, waiting for President Obama’s entourage to zip past B.B. King’s, en route from a fundraiser to the theatre, but inside the intimate blues club, another very different crowd waited no less eagerly for the British-Invasion group the Yardbirds to take the stage. I saw both, and believe me, the Yardbirds delivered the better show by far.
The band has a history of changing lineups and launching careers, having had Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on guitar. At this performance, with Yardbird veteran (and a principal hit-writer) Jim McCarty on drums, the band offered a stellar lineup: Johnny A on guitar, Myke Scavone on harp, percussion and vocals, John Idan on guitar and lead vocals and the incredible Kenny Aaronson (Bob Dylan, Billy Idol) on bass. The irrepressible Jon Paris, performing next door, ducked in between his own sets for a long jam on the often-covered “The Train Kept A-Rollin’.”
We know the band for “For Your Love,” “Over Under Sideways Down,” “Heart Full of Soul” and “Dazed and Confused,” which Jimmy Page reprised for Led Zeppelin. The Yardbirds did ’em all, plus another 20 of their hits, pretty much without a break until the encore, a hard-driving, jam-y “I’m A Man.”
One outstanding moment among many occurred fairly early in the set, on “I Ain’t Got You,” when the band took flight, firing up a terrific jam which included a percussion duet with drummer McCarty—one of the best in the business—and Scavone. Obviously having fun, the guys wound up the audience too, and there was no letup until the joint shut down. For all the Secret Service and NYC cops leading his convoy, POTUS took a wrong turn on the Great White Way: He should have been at B.B. King’s, with us.
– Suzanne Cadgène