Club Academy, Manchester
Tuesday November 15, 2011
The account Vintage Trouble gave for themselves live on Later... with Jools Holland last year was interesting enough that their band name stuck in my head. It's not a cool name, but then, they're not a cool band. It's old-fashioned fun all the way with these overgrown boys; the sixties suits, silly guitar face-offs, dad dancing and audience 'party'-cipation.
In the enclosed basement of the University of Manchester's students' union, they recreate the kind of high-octane performance which made their TV appearance so notable. Impressively, they sustain this level of energy for the duration of the set. Lead singer Ty Taylor is a coiled spring of a man, exploding with frenzied gyrations, yelps and growls.
At the front of the crowd, are a number of Troublemakers - the band's most avid followers, that is. Despite the high average age of the audience, this contingent is remarkably young. The phrase 'young, foolish, but happy' springs to mind, because - though they have their merits - Vintage Trouble are not a great band. They are not a band that you buy the T-shirt of, or even the album of, in my opinion. They are an alright band with OK songs and a truly entertaining live act which all but conceals the border they share with mediocrity.
Many of the tracks on The Bomb Shelter Sessions album, which they play almost in its entirety tonight, have a strong repetitive quality to them. The engaging live show lends some advantage to this, occasionally engendering a hypnotic feeling that lets you slip right into the groove. However, despite the thrill of the live performance, the repetition does become apparent, and it has the effect of making each song feel like it went on a little too long.
One of their catchier tunes, 'Blues Hand Me Down' ï¿½ the one they played on Later... ï¿½ seems to nail on the head exactly what is the band's major detractor; that is, they are clean out of authenticity. For Taylor's too-long eye-catching of individual audience members and suggestive movements are all affectation; no sex here, just overwrought innuendo. They have borrowed more than just their blues, but their moves; their look; everything. It wouldn't shock your grandmother, and boasts that they really do take fans back to hotel rooms only magnifies the try-hard schoolboy effect.
But I cannot make this criticism without noting that only a punter determined to achieve a similarly try-hard level of 'cool' could fail to enjoy such a fun gig. Yes, it's parody, but it's still fun. The show at once looks gruelling, due to the band's physical efforts, but it has a slickness and ease, because they clearly work hard to make it what it is. They earn their ticket price, and that is 'alright by me.'
words: Charlotte Gush