Vintage Trouble, Laurence Jones: The Ritz, Manchester

By Shaun Ponsonby
Wed 07 June, 2017

A perfect marriage of rock & soul, Shaun Ponsonby checks out California’s Vintage Trouble in Manchester.

It’s a miserable Tuesday night. It’s blowing a gale, the rain is falling thick and fast and we could all use a smile. Thankfully, we got a heavy dose of rock & soul to keep us alive.

Vintage Trouble have been visiting the UK for over half a decade, and they have built a reputation as a formidable live act; a reputation that shows no signs of slowing down.

They take the stage tonight to Big Mama Thornton’s original recording of Hound Dog and lead the crowd in a singalong before bursting into Total Strangers.

No disrespect to the rest of the band, but it is clear who the star of the show is. Ty Taylor is undoubtedly one of the most engaging front men out there. He is dressed immaculately and spins, dances and jumps like James Brown.  If Brown was the Godfather of Soul, Taylor could be the Godson. Despite this, he has his own identity. You may be reminded of soul stars from days of yore, but he is Ty Taylor through and through.

It is refreshing to see. His enthusiasm and showmanship is infectious, and it raises the band to another level. He also reveals hidden talents – who knew he could play the trombone?

Of course, the atrocities in Manchester are still being felt, and the band paid tribute to those who lost their lives, and even raised some money for the families during Not Alright By Me, with Taylor taking donations in the crowd. When the bucket reached us, we noticed people sticking £20 notes in.

The praise heaped on Taylor isn’t to diminish the rest of the band, however. It’s not all show here. They are solid. And although essentially playing soul music, they play it through the set-up of a rock & roll band. This means that something like Strike Your Light, which is fundamentally a deep, grooving southern soul romp, finds a unique sound through the amplifiers.

Although critically acclaimed, they are still very much a people’s band, and this is made obvious by their decision to leave the stage not be heading backstage, but rather by jumping off the front of the stage and making their way through the crowd, directly to the merchandise stand to meet and greet.

Most curiously, the set is mainly made up of as yet unreleased material, yet this never impacted the show. The band have built such a stature as a live band that they are able to do that. This included a gorgeous Doin’ What You’re Doin’, a song based on a visit to Venice Beach in California. Ty was doing mushrooms and there was a raid nearby. The cop turned to the guys after it was over and told them to “keep doin’ what you’re doin’”. The song itself was a laid back summertime tune in the vain of The Young Rascals’ Groovin’. 

A great live band is one that you can go and see, and when in it’s all over, you turn around and exclaim: “I want to be in a band like THAT!” Vintage Trouble are one of those.

Support came from Laurence Jones, who played with a blues rock trio and won the crowd over extremely quickly. If there is one thing you can say about him, he comes across as extremely determined, yet remained laid back and likable. I couldn’t quite say he blew me away, but he was pleasant company and his band were almost as solid as the headliners.

  • Image: artist’s Facebook