@Sage Gateshead, November 7 2015
The guitar is lost. The monitors break down. There is fear in the eyes of the lone tech racing from the wings and an expectant crowd wonders whether this will be money well spent midway through a sell-out show.
Most bands would be crippled by fear. Most bands would retreat into the shadows and cross their fingers. Most bands would experience their worst nightmare.
Vintage Trouble, of course, aren’t most bands. Never have been. Never will be. So when Nalle Colt couldn’t squeeze another note from his hamstrung instrument and Ty Taylor heard nothing but fuzzy feedback it was time to take the bull by the horns.
Rather than running from a crisis, this classy quartet faced it head on. Sensing an opportunity to turn a potential negative into a charming positive and spotting a chance to reinforce a special bond with the North East branch of the Troublemakers, the response was, ironically, electric.
It all started with a bluesy rhythm as Rick Barrio Dill and Richard Danielson instinctively rolled into action. Taylor fed off the vibe and pleaded with the masses to call for power. First there was a jam, then a song and 10 minutes down the line Vintage Trouble’s ‘Power/Troublemakers’ mash-up sounded good enough to make the B-side of the band’s next seven inch single (and yes, they do release seven-inch singles).
Colt and his tech grappled with switches and leads. Taylor made up lyrics on the spot. The fans sang along as if it was business as usual. And the band played on.
No tapes. No gimmicks. No pressure (well, maybe just a little).
Suddenly the pleas for power were finally answered and Colt was back in the game. Malmo’s finest offered an apology but by then none was needed. His colleagues had only gone and served up the finest 10 minutes of impromptu rock and soul the Sage – or anywhere – will see this year. Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, Vintage Trouble restored faith in the true power of live music and reaffirmed the belief that theirs is a heady brew best served chilled.
After that there was Taylor’s familiar dash from level one to three during a typically frantic version of Run Like The River – the sweat-soaked frontman clambering through the stalls, exiting right and gloriously reappearing like some quasi-religious icon towering over his congregation from the upper floor.
It was pure theatre but not for performance’s sake. Taylor loves nothing more than getting up close and personal with the people who feed off his passion: from the band’s early days selling out a steaming Cluny to their current status as Sage main hall headliners, the singer’s desire to connect with his fans remains undiminished.
Total Strangers’ symbolism wasn’t lost on fans who make regular pilgrimages to Vintage Trouble’s feverish live shows while Doin’ What You Were Doin – fast emerging as the pick of 1 Hopeful Road’s eclectic set – underpinned the mood of a gathering primed to party.
There was dancing in the aisles, fist-pumping in the pit, roars of approval from the balcony and an intoxicating air of almost suffocating optimism enveloping one of the UK’s most vibrant venues.
Nancy Lee never sounded so good. Another Man’s Words was wonderfully affecting and Blues Hand Me Down brought the house down. Remember when your mam said ‘don’t go looking for Trouble’? She’d never heard of Vintage Trouble.