Home Gigs Gig Review : Vintage Trouble ‘Heavy Hymnal’ Tour 2023 O2 Academy 2, Birmingham

Gig Review : Vintage Trouble ‘Heavy Hymnal’ Tour 2023 O2 Academy 2, Birmingham

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Review & Photography by Manny Manson for MPM

After another journey into the heart of Birmingham, this time uneventful even around the Pagoda roundabout, I’m parked outside the venue a little after the doors opening time of 7pm.

A swift chat and bag search and I’m in to a new venue for me, I’ve never been in Academy 2 to date. It’s a decent sized room, capacity for 600 I’m told. Sadly, as I wander over to the barrier, the room is bathed in horrid neon blue light and smoke that would hide Jack the Ripper, comfortably.

It’s early doors and surprisingly there isn’t more folk in, I eventually get a copy of the set times and the support aren’t on until 8pm so plenty of time for the crowd to build.

Ty comes on stage, an orange beanie perched perilously on his head and introduces the crowd to ‘STANDIN’ MAN’ a band from Warrington lead by Dean Fairhurst, who at first glance has a bit of the young Robert Redford going on. It must be the hat and the ‘Sundance Kid’ similarity.

With the beats slamming out from the kit of Peter Fleming and guitar riffage from Joe Kaveney the band get underway with ‘Angry Man’. Bass player Paul Glover is stage left as Fairhurst takes centre stage, sporting a cherry red Gibson ES-335 Memphis BB King Lucille, unique for its vari-tone control, a great guitar in anybody’s book, he leads the way through this number.

Crashing guitars and thundering drums tied into a meaty bassline has this opener bouncing along nicely. The animal skin finish on the Duesenberg of Kaveney is on point as he lets lose a couple of tasty riffs.

The vocal has attitude without being Gallagher tuneless. Nerves settled and the crowd onside, Fairhurst, thanks the crowd for coming down to see them.

If You Don’t Know What to Do with Yourself’ follows on again the vocal has hints of a certain Manchester lad, who they have supported, but only more tuneful.

The guitar Wah of Kaveney is a nice edge to this one giving it more than a nod to the psychedelic sounds of the 60’s. Fleming, the thundering powerhouse on the kit is making sure he’s heard, and a good job too as he is throwing in some tasty fills, a nice change to blast beats and 32nd note kickdrums.

The crowd seem to be enjoying the sound, they’re light in their loafers bouncing along to the beats. ‘Be Your Own Messiah’ continues with the sound, It’s the first single released from the new album, which is available at the merch desk before the release date of August 8th.

The steady guitar intro opens up with the dulcet tones from Fairhurst following, he’s searching the crowd as Kaveney unleashes a scorching guitar lick as the drums continue to be worked hard. Glover, stood stage left is providing an effortless bassline, he’s not broken a sweat or moved much away from his spot, his hair, like curtains, is being held open by his glasses so the crowd can see his smile.

It’s a cracking tune and goes down well. Fairhurst now tells the crowd how awesome it’s been touring Europe with Vintage Trouble, and how respectful they’ve been to them.

‘All That I’ve Been Looking For’, the current single, is next. The haunting guitar and sizzling hi hat introduces this steady number. Cymbal swells add a creative touch as a steady groove takes over and allows the guitars to thrust the song forward. The crowd are bouncing along to the beat as this one with just a hint of Weller scores a hit with the collective in tonight.

Fleming is introduced as he beats the hell out of his kit which subtly slides into a tribute to the Fab Four with ‘Eleanor Rigby’ a clever choice as those not familiar with Standin’ Man get a chance to sing along, as Fairhurst stretches his vocal cords with this timeless classic. With Warrington being all but a suburb of Liverpool it’s no surprise that they throw a Beatles number in to the set. This gets the biggest cheer of the night by far.

The usual Brexit hatred follows, it’s made it harder for smaller bands to tour abroad. Fairhurst says the album, ‘Be Your Own Messiah’ is exclusively available on the tour and isn’t released to the mainstream until August 12th. Get yours from the merch desk. ‘Colour of Money’ continues this great set, full of nostalgic 60’s over tones, big guitar hooks and bigger drums continue to fill the night.

Aside from the vocals there is a familiarity and warmth to the sound. Its obvious that Fairhurst’s song writing ability is next level, but then he has a background of writing for the likes of Netflix, Counts Roger Daltrey as a mate and has stood alongside producers who have worked with the likes of Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller.

Dean now introduces the band but neglects to mention Peter Fleming on drums, he does mention a crew member, who I fail to catch his name clearly, Steve? anyway we’re told he lives on 2hrs sleep and KitKats. The last song is then introduced as ‘Changing Wind’ the single released back in April. Its full of jangly guitars and a powerful vocal.

It’s all about the end of life and the decisions made to influence our next move. There’s a great clap along sequence that seemingly started up by the crowd, Fairhurst thanks everyone amidst whistles and cheers, and brings out Ty Taylor to finish the song. Ty’s voice wraps itself around Fairhurst’s as the song builds to the inevitable big finish and huge cheers from the crowd. I’m sure the merch will do well; they have been a great support and thoroughly warmed the crowd up ready for the main turn.

Ty’s voice comes over the house PA as he asks if they are ready repeatedly as ‘VINTAGE TROUBLE‘ are introduced. They hit the dark red set minus Ty, my heart is in my throat at the thought of a set flooded by horrible red light. Dirty guitar slide is ripping from the darkness, cymbal swells and tom riffs slam out before dropping into a steady groove laced with a scorching slide guitar lick from Nalle Colt.

White haired Ty dances to the mic and the sermon begins as the set starts with ‘Run Like the River’ from 1 Hopeful Rd. the 2015 release. Ty calls out to the crowd repeatedly as he dances across the stage, he quickly has the crowd repeating him, we are less than 2 minutes into the set and the crowd are in the palm of his hand. ‘Blues Hand Me Down’ from the debut album The Bomb Shelter Sessions follows straight on despite the cheers.

Rev.Ty is in the house and the crowd are loving it. The drums are thrashing a groove as Ty warms himself up, by racing back and forth across the stage posing with the mic stand, big back arches and ariel acrobatics. The guitar is squealing alongside Ty’s effervescent personality. And now he’s up on the barrier conducting the congregation.

The crowd are loving the band, as he asks if they can dance together, the clapping is contagious as he gets the crowd to dance to the right as the band strike up into ‘Doin’ What You Were Doin’. The crowd take over the vocals as this one slides across the room; the call and return continues with some jazz style scat phrases.

The room erupts as this one finishes; Ty calls out and its repeated back. The previous shows have ‘Nothing Compares To you’ tribute to Sinéad O’Connor, segued into this one, but not tonight.

Within seconds we have a gospel church clapping and singing as we go into ‘You Already Know’ with more cowbell, yeeha this one jumps straight out of the 50’s and again the crowd are bouncing and singing in response.

It’s a partisan congregation in as Colt lets rip with a filthy sounding guitar. This is the first from the new album ‘Heavy Hymnal’ that was released towards the end of June, and it’s going down a bomb. There now follows some banter with a woman from the audience. She wants to know that ‘Another Man’s Word’ is on the set list as she loves it. It’s not, reply’s Ty as he cringes.

It sounds like she was at the previous night’s gig. Ty tells the crowd that he’s now single. Ty goes on to talk about going to his mum and his Aunt Ruth about his breakup. ‘Not the One’ is named after what they used to say to him in times of breakup.

This is another from the new album, a slower number which has Ty, bathed in spotlights as he wanders the stage, the crowd crooning along as he does so. ‘Holla!’ again from the new album and is another rejoiceful number that has the crowd moving.

I’m assured the house isn’t full but with the energy in the room it certainly feels it as the crowd clap along. Richard Danielson is providing a sooth drum groove as Rick Barrio Dill, on bass, is punching the lows into your chest. Colt lets fly with yet another scorching, tasteful lick. A circle is called for and cleared in the middle of the room as Ty gets down and dances with the crowd.

Who I Am’ continues with its fast rapped intro and rousing hallelujah feel, it is yet another from the new long player. Ty surfs around the crowd ending up with him hand standing and doing the splits much to the crowd’s delight. He thanks them for holding him up, and thanks Peter from Standin’ Man who has been helping out on the drums.

The Love That Once Lingered’ follows. This is the single that has Lady Blackbird duetting with Ty, who unfortunately looks a lot like Dean Fairhurst from ’Standin’ Man’ tonight. No disrespect Dean. This is another from Heavy Hymnal.

The crowd are quiet and respectful with this one. Dean and Ty sing this one with tenderness as they look longingly into each-other’s eyes before facing the crowd and continuing. The song finishes with chants of ‘DEAN’ ‘DEAN’, as looking around there is more than my tearful eye. A solid number.

The beats continue to fly out fast and unfettered as Ty leaves the stage and lets Nalle, Rick and Richard lose with ‘Total Strangers’ an instrumental from the debut album. It’s a great showcase of a number and has a smiling Nalle Colt and Rick Barrio Dill up front, ripping the crowd a new one with screaming guitars and thunder bass and drums.

With this sonic reprise we are now back to the new album and ‘Shinin’ but not before Ty tells us that he’s sad knowing that the night is nearly over, if he could he’d have bottles of tonight ready to take when he needed cheering. He asks the crowd to be nice and happy with everyone.

He talks about the merch and that there’s is a pack put together of Vintage Trouble history, he says he sound have mentioned it four times by now but he was being present, as he sets about delivering this feel-good song. Stevie Wonders, ‘Higher Ground’ keeps the feel-good nature going, once again the crowd are joining in with the singing as the guitar sings along with the “higher” calls amidst much laughter.

The band go straight into ‘Nobody Told Me’, this being from the debut album. Dripping in soul this number has a Marvin Gaye style feel good vibe and is showing the more mature side to Vintage Trouble, The High Energy James Brown style delivery that propels the large part of the bands live show is only one side to this multi-facetted quartet.

Another from the new album follows that fan favourite, ‘Repeating History’ is laid back, the breakdown has a stunning display of guitar from Colt. This man has the chops as he cut n thrusts with yet another sonic delight. The night is brough to a close with a trip to one of two E.P.’s released in 2018/19, this one being Chapter 11 from 2019 and a rousing finish to a stunning night, the awesome ‘Knock Me Out’. Full of crowd claps and fast delivered lyrics and some fancy footwork.

The band are bouncing encouraging the crowd to clap along, as if they need any encouragement. Screaming guitar has the crowd cheering as Ty paces the stage like a Duracell bunny, his energy is relentless as he thumps his chest to the beat of the drum as the last notes are played out. And the night is brought to a close.

The heat in the room has risen dramatically as smiling folk file out as others make their way to queue at the merch stand to meet Ty and the band. Having been up in the small balcony we’re released out into the street to see another mighty queue of Cabs waiting to take the congregation home.

I walk back to my car sing along, tunelessly to higher ground, and realise I’ve walked past it!

I was re-living the vibe such was the night. If you’ve not caught Vintage Trouble or Standin’ Man for that matter, they’re worth looking out for. A school night well spent.

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