A band that’s been on my ‘keep meaning to see’ list for some time, LA rock/soul/bluesers Vintage Trouble squeezed this and a handful of other dates in between their UK festival appearances this summer. Although several of my friends have raved about them in the past I’d never got around to seeing them until now, and I had only sketchy knowledge of their work. Enough to know that they were influenced greatly by soul / rhythm & blues artists from the 1960s as much as rock, so I was expecting an energetic performance.
Hangar 34 hasn’t been going for very long but has established itself already as a popular live venue; a decent-sized floor with a good stage, good sight lines wherever you are in the room and even a small balcony to the rear, its only slight disadvantage is the fact it is located in the south end of the city, in what’s now known as the Baltic Triangle ‘creative quarter’ where there have been many bars, cafes, live venues and creative business spring up in recent years. It is about a mile from the main railway stations, a little less to the main bus station so, a pretty decent walk if you were to use public transport. With that in mind, although fairly local I drove in, and found a spot mere yards from the door of this venue. I entered expecting to see a support band, what I got was a DJ on the stage complete with rig, playing a selection of Northern Soul favourites for the early arrivals. The place was not busy at all when I got there, allowing me to get fairly close to the stage, but as the DJ set wore in with us being treated to such classics as ‘The Snake’, it got steadily more busy.
The band eventually came on around 9pm, to a crowd I estimate of around 500 – not capacity but not too bad for a midweek gig. They all gathered around into a huddle prior to commencing the set, something like a football team would do, before kicking things off with ‘Run Like The River’. Snappy dressers to a man, the sheer energy and heat given off by this band soon had the guys’ nice clothes (particularly the polka-dot shirt of singer Ty Taylor) soaked in sweat! Coming over something like a modern-day James Brown if he had Led Zeppelin backing him, this was something to behold even for a first-timer like me. Taylor is a master of the stage, getting this crowd eating from his hand from the first minute to the last, commanding the attention, and getting the most raucous response from any crowd I’ve seen in years. This 500-strong crowd sounded like 5000 at times!
He has some serious talent backing him too, from relentlessly pounding drummer Richard Danielson, to the trilby-hatted duo of guitarist Nalle Colt and bassist Rick Barrio Dill, through to ‘fifth Troublemaker’, touring keyboardist Brian London. They were given a spot midway through to play an instrumental while Taylor took a (deserved) breather, each member got a brief solo spot to show their respective ‘chops’. All terrific players, though it’s that drummer who stood out for me. The band had some new tracks to showcase from an upcoming album which isn’t out yet, but to me all of it was new – having not cribbed their material beforehand!
Taylor was everywhere, all over the stage, pulling some impressive gymnastics and occasionally vaulting over the barrier to join us in the crowd. He even emulated Cormac Neeson at one point, getting everyone to crouch down around him in the same way that The Answer’s frontman sometimes does, and that’s not the only thing he did that reminded me of another frontman. Towards the end of the show he asked for and got, the crowd to introduce themselves to a nearby person they didn’t know. That’s something which has been tried by Shinedown’s Brent Smith on three occasions whenever I’ve seen them, but he couldn’t get many involved. The Vintage Trouble singer did the same thing with ease, as we all shook hands with a stranger near us! He even did one number from that balcony (it was unused on the night otherwise) and seemed to relish in the audience contact, even being crowdsurfed back to the stage! For their encore, he led the whole band off the stage at the conclusion of their last number and through the crowd to the merchandise stand at the back of the hall – one way of ensuring we all knew that was the final song!
Vintage Trouble said that they always enjoyed playing in Liverpool, since the city had that ‘grimy’ feel which made them feel at home – this venue hasn’t quite developed that ‘grime’ yet, being so new, but the part of town it’s in certainly fits that description, as it consists of former factories and warehouses. When they come around again next year, don’t hang about and get a ticket to see these fellas. For a high-energy feel-good show, they’re hard to beat.