Vintage Trouble + DJ Papa Ray
March 27, 2015
Having supported the Stones and performed on Letterman, it did spring to my mind before last night’s show to ask why Vintage Trouble play smaller local venues like Fibbers, when they could likely fill academies and the like twice over.
The simple answer is – they bloody love it.
For the first time this year, there were no support acts as such, but a beefy St Louis guy in shades and a leather flat cap by the name of DJ Papa Ray.
This guy was cool. So cool, in fact, that for the most part of his hour-long set he was concealed offstage, which was slightly off-putting and was part of the reason I’m unsure that he quite got the dance moves from the audience he kept asking for.
No matter though, as his collection of rare blues and soul 45s was exquisite, all on the original vinyl, which I certainly wouldn’t mind a playlist of, especially as there were some tracks so rare even Shazam couldn’t pick them up.
Or perhaps it was because of the crowd noise – Fibbers was absolutely heaving, with the show selling out months ago, and while Papa Ray hardly set the crowd alight, he and his enormous jukebox-like memory of classic tracks certainly kept the crowd simmering with anticipation pre-headliners.
Then, trouble arrived.
Frontman Ty Taylor exploded out of the starting blocks quicker than Bolt, instantly electrifying the room with his limitless energy and almost palpable stage aura.
His moves were as sharp as his suit, whilst the voice that erupted from his sweat-sheened fizzog was absolutely breathtaking.
You can see why Messrs May and Taylor asked him to front their little band for Freddie’s 65th birthday concert – both powerful and operatic, his voice is far more rich and technically adept than the moustachioed one’s ever was, reminiscent more of Jackie Wilson especially in its higher register.
His backing band weren’t half bad either. Bassist Rick Barrio Dill (with hair similar to that of Bowie-aping Britpop ledge Brett Anderson) and Nalle Colt on guitar forming a smart, symmetrical duo with their matching waistcoats and white instruments, kept firmly in check through their outstanding drummer Richard Danielson.
These guys are true pros, executing both toe-tapping rock licks and arm-swaying love songs with equal precision whilst their attention-grabbing commander-in-chief Taylor writhed and spun at the audience.
In a long, fan-pleasing set they rattled through their original classics like the startlingly energetic Blues Hand Me Down and the swaggeringly sexy Total Strangers as well as a couple of new tracks including From Your Heart and Do What You Were Doing, both of which were sweet (and the latter reminded me of the Grease soundtrack) but for my money no match for their real stompers.
What really made them special – because, let’s face it, their songs, though often thrilling, are not hugely original – was the audience rapport.
Almost entirely generated by the extraordinary Taylor, it was utterly tremendous to see Fibbers packed and moving, with everyone in the invigoratingly sweaty room hand waving, clapping, hip-shaking and singing louder and louder as the night went on.
Working the room
The last half-hour was the finest. During the anthemic Run Like The River, Taylor leapt into the adoring bunch of Troublemakers (as their fans are cheekily known). Racing up to the sound booth in the centre of the venue, he clambered on top and, like a prophet addressing his disciples, conducted a chant of ‘Run, baby, run!’ from all four corners of the room for a full five minutes before heading back stagewards.
For their encore, they topped this the only way they could – by bringing back Papa Ray!
His harmonica skills added to an excellent version of You Better Believe It, another perfect audience singalong that definitively proved Vintage Trouble are without doubt a band best experienced live.
Then, finally, they topped Papa Ray the only way they could – with strippers.
Their closer was, of course, Pelvis Pusher, and after a joke about the “strip club upstairs”, Ty Taylor welcomed on two very scantily clad girls from backstage who gyrated alongside him for the powerful closer.
I’m still a little torn as to whether this was Stones-style humorous decadence or a little distasteful. You decide.
But anyway, the band had a fabulous time in “sweaty Fibbers” as the frontman christened our flagship venue, only matched by the levels of joy in the audience.
It was the perfect way to end the week.