The insipid heat of Academy 3, caused by the mixed throng of bodies and lack of adequate ventilation, provided a suitable setting for Vintage Trouble, the soul-rock sensation that has recently burst out of Los Angeles. Their sound is a fusion of many solid influences. From the outset, it sounds like AC/DC have got on stage, only to play a song written by Credence Clearwater Revival with Marvin Gaye singing the lyrics. Oh and Tina Turner is their roadie.
The four-piece have had a hectic time since forming just 15 months ago. Their time in England has been in keeping with this theme, since performing on Jools Holland their reputation has skyrocketed, turning what was originally a 6 week tour of the UK into one lasting nearly 9 months (from April until Christmas 2011). And it’s easy to see why, the anticipation in the room was so great that even before the band came on stage the audience applauded when the lights slightly changed colour. Apparently academy audiences are impressed by colourful lights.
Starting with a classic rock style instrumental piece, guitarist Nalle Colt, bassist Rick Barrio Dill and drummer Richard Danielson pounded out a tune that left no doubt; everyone present was going to have a good time. A smooth transition into their hit Blues Hand Me Down saw the crowd roar, which became near deafening as intensely cool front man Ty Taylor exploded onto the stage.
Instantly his vocals and his range enraptured the room, singing softly like Otis Reading to screams that would make your mother come running. Combined with the bass majesty powered out by Rick, the brutal beats of Richard and Nalle’s prowess with his axe – he seems to be a personification of Gibson – their sound was almost tangible.
As they embarked on the following numbers, the crowd became more and more enthralled. You Better Believe It (aka ‘get the fuck out the door anthem’) elicited clapping to the beat that sounded like a very angry, but very funky, marching army. Audience interaction was a big factor in the show; there was not one song where the audience didn’t have a part to play. Clapping, singing or dancing along, the audience were not just incorporated into the performance, they were essential to it. You could tell the band knew the importance of the crowd’s contribution, and as a touching gesture said with conviction, invited the entire crowd for drinks at the bar after the show.
Vintage Trouble performing ‘Blues Hand Me Down’ on Later With Jools Holland
It only got better as the performance continued, as they broke into Nancy Lee, a song written about Ty’s parents. For a band that has been together little over a year, their stage craft is incredible. Their songs are tight and refined, and they work the crowd so that each song is applauded at least three times. Ty’s sultry body thrusting jive is like a shockwave, and as the audience responds with arm waving and cheers, his voice continued to mould to his want, at some points sounding like Gladys Knight while at others more like Al Green.
Ultimately VT are not breaking any boundaries, with a comfortably classic sound which is appropriately vintage. Their performance belies four musicians that are extremely talented at what they do, without pretension or arrogance, and what they do is tried, tested and thoroughly enjoyable. The lasting impression of the band is that they enjoyed the performance as much as, if not more, than the audience. What is more I think that’s the case every night they’re on stage.
WORDS by Chris Mitchell
PHOTOS by Ste Beed of owtcreative.com