@ Newcastle Cluny, August 2 2011

When the tour bus dwarfs the venue you kinda know something special is in the air.

And when that air is hot, humid and sticky it’s time to kick back and give yourself over completely to the soothing rock and soul sounds of fast-rising troubadours Vintage Trouble. 

A big bus isn’t the only thing this Los Angeles quartet have going for them right now. Managed by the chap responsible for Kiss’s global commercial success, patronised by none other than stadium behemoths Bon Jovi and a favourite of tastemaker extraordinaire Jools Holland, it seems nothing can stop Ty Taylor and company.

Then there’s the music. And for all the hype, celebrity backing and prime media coverage, Vintage Trouble will live or die by their tunes. It just so happens they’ve got them in abundance. And almost every one is brilliant.

Packed inside the intimate Cluny, those present quickly realised this sweltering gig was going to live long in the memory. A true ‘I was there’ moment. If and when Vintage Trouble return to Tyneside – and demand is rapidly outstripping supply where this lot is concerned – it won’t be to a venue fit for a couple of hundred. And it won’t cost six quid. Next time Taylor and his merry men tackle Newcastle they’ll be Academy headliners at the very least.

Hence it was a genuine privilege to witness this classy quartet dig deep into debut album The Bomb Shelter Sessions and do so with considerable panache. Strolling onto the stage in a shimmering silvery suit, Taylor looked every inch the consummate frontman right from the off. The fact that his best threads were dark grey within minutes – drenched in perspiration – only served to reaffirm the belief that the experienced crooner was here to give his all on a night when VT finally made Newcastle a heady home from home.

Taylor was quickly into his stride, enjoying relaxed and unrehearsed banter with the heaving masses and delivering singalong favourites Nancy Lee and the rousing You Better Believe It with genuine delight.

The ‘Troublemakers’ canny enough to snap up tickets for this show before the rest of the world twigged were in their element. Enjoying each and every one of their new favourites’ addictive classics, all the joy etched on Taylor’s distinctive face was reciprocated tenfold. Any pre-show expectations had been met long before Blues Hand Me Down ushered in the final segment of a simply stunning set.

As the final notes drifted into the atypically smouldering Tyneside night a sea of smug faces followed, each and every one of the paying customers smug in the knowledge that they’d seen something every self-respecting music fan would kill to witness.

Later, stood alongside their big bus, Taylor and his buddies revealed anything but big egos as they mingled freely and comfortably with their new-found devotees. Vintage Trouble’s return can’t come soon enough.

Simon Rushworth