An hour after rock n soul sensation Vintage Trouble trooped off stage, the queue of fans patiently waiting to meet the consummate Californian quartet still snaked halfway across the crackling Sage Gateshead concourse. Most would have happily hung around all night.
If David, the band’s multi-tasking tour manager, looked just a little perturbed there was simply no stopping his beaming charges, fuelled by a heady combination of post-gig adrenaline and warm adulation. Inching forward, starry-eyed Troublemaker followed starry-eyed Troublemaker and every one was greeted by frontman Ty Taylor’s sparkling white smile and heartfelt welcome.
Next up was the equally affable Rick Barrio Dill – the band’s gentle giant of a bass player – before sweet talking Swede Nalle Colt and devilishly dapper drummer Richard Danielson stopped to pass the time of day with each delighted punter. In an age of virtual reality, communication by social network and music downloads this was grassroots interaction at its most endearing and effective.
Vintage Trouble are more than just a great band. They’re fiercely protective custodians of an increasingly valuable brand. And that brand is already synonymous with quality and consumer satisfaction: if that sounds cold and commercial then the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Carefully guided by the management team responsible for breaking Bon Jovi and Motley Crue, steering Kiss through the last two decades and giving Guns N Roses a timely boost there’s no doubt Vintage Trouble are seen as a serious business proposition. But the foursome are a glorious throwback to a time when rock’s pretenders built from the bottom up, put their fans first and understood the true worth of faultless live performance.
Vintage Trouble don’t need a dazzling light show, dozens of special effects and a booming rig. What they truly desire is a venue worthy of their meticulous craft. Consequently the band had made no secret of their ambition to headline Sage Gateshead’s Hall One. Once there they were never going to pass up a glorious opportunity to cement their place in North East folklore.
Within minutes it became clear this was where Vintage Trouble had always belonged. Moving from their traditional huddle to usher in a rich, varied and vivacious set the band benefited from a sound superior even to that afforded them as The Who’s opening act 12 months earlier. It was a magical mix to make grown men weep.
Taylor’s concerted effort to promote new EP The Swing House Acoustic Sessions might have grated were in not for the fact that Lo And Behold and Another Man’s Words, two of the timely release’s five tracks, stole the show. In an acoustic setting, Vintage Trouble’s musicianship was laid bare to spine-tingling, wondrous effect. Sure Taylor can get the crowd going with his infectious take on vintage James Brown but few peers can match the honey-coated sweetness of his softer tones.
Nancy Lee and Total Strangers still sound disarmingly fresh four years down the line while live favourite Pelvic Pusher oozed uncontrollable passion.
Taylor had bonded with his people long before the post-gig meet-and-greet – launching into a quick tour of Hall One’s upper floors to ply his trade in amongst the paying customers – and that desire to get closer to the action is just part of the charismatic singer’s undeniable charm. That he’s not already a household name – on a par with rock’s premier performers – beggars belief.
It will only be a matter of time with a new album due to drop early next year and a second successive Glastonbury Festival slot broadening his brilliant band’s mainstream appeal.
The first time Vintage Trouble played Tyneside their tour bus dwarfed the venue. Three years on and the venue dwarfed the bus. Even so, it feels as if this band’s remarkable journey has only just begun.
Exclusive image courtesy of Gordon Armstrong