Live Review: Vintage Trouble, London

Vintage Trouble

vintage trouble17th November, London, Kentish Town Forum

Words: Greg Arthur

I missed Vintage Trouble at Glastonbury due to the bananas scheduling (and walking), I didn’t go to see AC/DC this summer, so missed them there, and all I’ve seen is a Fender basement session and a few highlights from the BBC coverage at Glasto from earlier this year. Vintage Trouble have eluded me over the past 6 months. My first thoughts from snippets Online? WOW. These guys know their craft. Then it dawned on me…are Vintage Trouble comprised of a fantastic singer with a few session musicians chucked in the back? Possibly. The official back story says otherwise, of course.

 

It’s a slick performance, and this is predominantly down to the honed skills – vocally and kinetically – by frontman, Ty Taylor. Sporting a beige suit and the voice of Sam Cooke with a few Pro Plus in him, Taylor really brings the vintage with him. Backed by a fantastic band of musicians, everything is note perfect, and this is the sound of a band that’s been on tour. A triumph and a hindrance it seems tonight. Whereas reports from previous shows propel the image of a hard-rocking, whiskey-soaked straight-out blues-rock-n-soul band, tonight we’re given about 10% of that description, and 90% filler with more slow soul, than a hard rocking brute force.

 

I’m a big fan of slow soul, but that’s not what I came for, and that’s not even Vintage Trouble’s strength. Taylor has a limited register when he strays from being the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll showman. No amount of pirouettes, striding into the audience, taking a lap of the venue, and call-and-response showmanship can take away from the fact that Vintage Trouble, although musically gifted, are limited in their style. TV’s Paloma Faith will stride on mid-set with her backing dancers and slay him vocally, and whilst the crowd seem fairly ambivalent to the fact she’s there at all, it does become clear that Vintage Trouble need to stick to what they’re best at. Hand Me Down Blues is one of the highlights, and one of the main parts where there isn’t an audible hum from the crowd having a natter.

 

The trio of (suspected session) musicians that back Taylor up are all perfectly capable, and remind me of a watered down Rival Sons. Whereas the Long Beach band can rouse an audience from comatose to electrifying excitement in under a minute, Nalle Colt (guitar), Rick Barrio Dill (bass) and Richard Danielson (drums) seem content to underwhelm and just play what’s recorded. The element of surprise, shock, pizazz and all-out blues jamming seems lost on them. It could have been an off-night, and I hope it was, because this seems like a band I could dig. But even those who paid to be there, wore the t-shirt and sang along, seemed to dip outside for a cigarette, or turn to their neighbour for small talk during the performance.

 

If you want slow soul, hit up Alabama Shakes, take a peek at the non-single releases from Rival Sons, or grab a Sam Cooke record. Even Benjamin Booker can hit both soul and rock in one song. If you want filth-blues, get AC/DC, Dead Weather, Rival Sons, Tax The Heat, The Graveltones, Led Zeppelin.

 

Vintage Trouble are a great band, but appeared as the One Direction of blues rock n roll. Dressed accordingly, stage designed and well-rehearsed, not to stray off-brand. If they hit back though, they’ll be freakin’ amazing.

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