Photographer Adam Kennedy joined Vintage Trouble while they toured the UK and got exclusive insight to the American Blues Rock band.
Back in 2011, the BBC invited Vintage Trouble to play Later with Jools Holland show. This appearance subsequently sparked a love affair between their UK fan base, the TroubleMakers, and Los Angeles Rock and Soul outfit.
The band managed by the legendary Doc McGhee (Kiss, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi) were only meant to stay in the UK for three weeks in support of their dÃ©but album The Bomb Shelter Sessions, but stayed four months. They opened for the likes of Bon Jovi and the iconic Queen guitarist Brian May, undertaking the impressive feat of 80 shows in 100 days. This era also formed the basis of their documentary of the same name.
Last year, I saw the band hit the road with The Who across Europe and North America, open for The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park, make a whole host of late night TV appearances in the US, and play prestigious festival appearances around the world. In early 2014, the band formed a union with Don Was and Blue Note Records.
This summer the band made a much-anticipated return the UK shores with a sold out tour, bringing with them their latest offering The Swing House Acoustic Sessions, an incredible five track EP comprising of three new tracks Another Man’s Words, Lo and Behold, and Never Mine. Which gives you a taste of what is yet to come from their next album along with reworks of VT classics like Blues Hand Me Down and Run Outta You.
Reuniting with many familiar faces from the ever-expanding TroubleMaker community (some of whom had traveled from all over the world to be there) I took to the road to follow the tour across the UK.
The tour kicked off at York Racecourse where the band had been invited to play a private show at York University’s graduation ball to a crowd of up to 3,000 students, a lot of whom were getting their first taste of Vintage Trouble. The band, fresh from a US Tour, which included shows at Bonnaroo and Red Rocks the previous week.
The show saw a welcome return to VT’s bass cat Rick Barrio Dill, who had been sidelined due to surgery for a lot of the band’s US Tour. The legendary Booker T Jones even filled in for RBD at one show, and just made the journey across the pond in the eleventh hour.
The band always had a great time in York, having played the now legendary, hot and sweaty sold out shows at Fibbers, three years prior. The show was a classic VT set, with the addition of the awesome Lo and Behold, the first time the song had been played live in the UK. The student crowd loved it, obeying their every command, starting a formidable soul pit during the band’s last single Strike Your Light On Me. It was cool to see many new TroubleMakers being made that night.
The first official show of the Summer of Trouble was a return to the Cockpit in Leeds. An intricate looking room with a corrugated steel roof, which made it look like what I can only imagine an air raid shelter would look like, and the first real opportunity for the TroubleMakers to get back together after almost a year apart. The band last played there in 2011, many of the same faces were in the room. The show was sold out then and as well as that night, the room was packed and the show was hot.
The band was on fire, this was what everyone had all been waiting for over the last twelve months. The band added a much welcomed acoustic set into the show, comprised of the reworked Blues Hand Me Down, deep and groovy acoustic Run Outta You, and new track, Never Mine.
We were treated to an electric version of Another Man’s Word, which is also featured on the new EP. It’s an incredible track that has waited in the wings since 2011, finally having it’s time to shine, and it didn’t disappoint. That was just the start. A familiar phrase from fans after a VT show is, “that was the best I’ve ever seen them,” yet somehow with every show they seem to push the boundaries and pull something out of the bag which exceeds the last performance.
In 2011, Vintage Trouble played their first North East show with the legendary Brian May in Hall One at the Sage Gateshead. The band made several visits back to the region since then, including sold out shows in Hall Two at the Sage, as well as opening for The Who at the Metro Radio Arena last year. They have become very fond of area and booked their largest UK headline show to date in Hall One at the Sage Gateshead, returning to the hall which holds so many memories from their first visit with Brian May.
According to CNN, The Sage Gateshead was recently cited as one of the worldâ€™s “15 most spectacular concert halls.” A lot of the audience were moved in more ways than one. A very proud moment for both the band and the loyal TroubleMakers in attendance that night.
Having seen the band play many club gigs over the years, they looked so comfortable now in huge theaters, without losing any of the intimacy of their smaller shows. They made the show feel like a sweaty juke joint, the audience on their feet, in what is predominantly an all seater room from the off. It truly felt like they had graduated to the next level. It felt like in future this would be the norm.
Scotland has always been a VT stronghold, in 2011 their largest headline show up to that point was at the O2 ABC in Glasgow, (also featured on their documentary/DVD). It had been a few years since the last time they played Edinburgh, which meant another sold out show.
The venue was the beautiful Queens Hall. The band showed their respect to the local crowd by bringing out Cailean Hall-Gardiner to add some authentic Scottish bag pipe melody to opening track Not Alright By Me, before the band welcomed TroubleMakers Will Mcclenaghan and Amanda Beggs to the stage.
The couple had their first date at a VT concert several years prior, Will proposed to his now fiancÃ© Amanda on stage and they proceeded to dance with the band during Gracefully. The show was brought to a close with Ty now donning a kilt much to the pleasing of the Edinburgh crowd. Again, we found ourselves asking, “how can they get any better than that?”
The tour then moved south to the Bristol Bierkeller, a warm up show for the Glastonbury Festival the following day. The TroubleMakers lined the street in anticipation, queuing in the rain to get a spot in front of the stage. The venue was intimate, a very up close and personal VT show, hot and sweaty just as the TroubleMakers like it.
In 2013, Vintage Trouble were invited to play the prestigious Glastonbury Festival, headlining the Avalon Stage. A tough job as their set time was to clash with The Rolling Stones on the Pyramid Stage, yet despite that they still packed out the tent. This year the band were invited to return and play one of the more notable stages at the festival, the BBC televised West Holts Stage.
In true Glastonbury fashion, there had been heavy rain in the previous days, making the festival site very muddy and the weather forecast was for more rain that day. However, when we arrived on site the sun was in the sky and it looked to be a beautiful day. The band’s intro tape Hound Dog by Big Mamma Thornton rolled as the heavens opened up into a torrential downpour.
Five minutes into VT’s set and half way through Blues Hand Me Down, the band were informed the stage was being shutdown as an electrical storm had come in and lightning had struck on site. In an unprecedented event every stage at Glastonbury was shutdown. It was thought it would only be for a few minutes but the storm was so heavy it wasn’t safe to send the band back on.
The huge crowd waiting continued to chant, ‘Vintage Trouble’. The band went out to the crowd to chat to fans where they sang Nancy Lee a capella. Eventually, the stage management informed the band that they wouldn’t be able to return to stage as their set time had now passed and it would impact the rest of the stage times.
All of the TroubleMakers had waited and chanted in the heavy rain. The band was disappointed at the news so they decided to go guerrilla style and take their acoustic guitars out front. Aided with a megaphone handed to Ty Taylor by a fan in the crowd, they played two songs Strike Your Light On Me and Run Like The River, to the thousands still waiting. A set that will go down in both VT and Glastonbury history.
The UK tour was brought to a close at the sold out, headline appearance, at Grillstock Festival in Manchester, an open air event set in Albert Square in front of the impressive town hall. As the band’s set had been cut short at Glastonbury due to the weather, they informed the audience that they would finish what they had started there in Manchester.
The band worked the crowd, Ty taking to the audience during Run Like The River, meeting the fans in the middle of the square, and skipping his way across the tables to make his way back to the stage. One of the highlights of the show was when the band invited a young fan Zach Sutcliffe on to the stage to dance with the band during Blues Hand Me Down much to the pleasure of the crowd. The show and tour were brought to a close with Run Outta You and a blistering solo by Nalle Colt.
Throughout the course of the tour, the band had played the acoustic version of the track featured on The Swing House Sessions EP, so this was a real treat. The passion and intensity in the solo, Nalle thrusting his Les Paul towards his guitar tech at the end and leaving the rest of the band on stage to play out the track until only Richard Danielson remains to play out the drum beat.
Seven shows, seven different cities, each unique in their own way. Vintage Trouble’s live show is second to none. They have become the benchmark for each band I see perform. The UK has become a home away from home for the band. They have come a long way since 2011 and as they enter the studio to record the follow-up to The Bomb Shelter Sessions and under the wings of Doc McGhee and Blue Note Records, I can only see more exciting times ahead for VT.