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

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

No disrespect to the rest of the band, but as they take to the stage 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. He is an old time soul screamer, dropping to his knees in the name of the Lord and wringing every last piece of feeling out of every word he sings. He works the crowd into a frenzy the minute he walks on stage.

Despite this, he still 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?

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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 Pelvis Pusher, 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.

They were sure to play songs from their upcoming third album, which seems to find the band developing. Up until now, you pretty much know what to expect from a Vintage Trouble record. But there were new dimensions to much of the new material.

Ty explained before performing Battles End that the world is changing, and even “the most hardened partiers need to stand up”. It was certainly the most political song lyrically, and felt like new territory musically. They said that they are hoping the new record will be released in September – by the evidence on display tonight it may be the most vital studio record they have made yet.

Of course it was back to the old tricks by the end of the set – Taylor was crowd surfing and dancing his way around the crowd, much to the delight to just about everybody. Frankly, I don’t know where he gets the energy. I would have been winded early on.

But I wish I could do it; 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.

Pictures by Tom Adam