Vintage Trouble Get Heavy And Hymnal At Electric Brixton

Vintage Trouble have a new album out. It’s called Heavy Hymnal and they’re rightly proud of it. So proud, in fact, that Ty Taylor pulls out a copy during their London gig to show off the coloured vinyl. “It’s bronze, but when you play it, it makes you feel like gold,” the frontman promises.

Vintage Trouble Electric Brixton 030823-012

Vintage Trouble Electric Brixton 030823-012

He’s not wrong. Six of the LP’s tracks are performed tonight and go a very long way in creating the feel good sense of community inside Electric Brixton. There’s the immediate You Already Know that, yes, the audience already know, needing no encouragement to chant the single-line chorus over and over again. There’s the ’50s-flavoured soul breakup ballad Not The One with its built-in moment of silence for the crowd to sing back to Taylor, who, in turn, responds with a broad smile. 

There’s the vibrant Holla!, introduced by the energetic singer’s reflections on recent racial injustices that he ends with with the wonderfully poetic line: “When hate becomes louder than love, you’ve got to holler.” The song itself does just that and becomes the soundtrack to Taylor dancing with fans on the floor before returning to the stage to lead them through an “oh! oh!” call and response.

Vintage Trouble Electric Brixton 030823-011

Vintage Trouble Electric Brixton 030823-011

There’s the pure adrenaline rush of Who I Am with its breakneck verses (boasting rhymes like the clearly autobiographical “I’m here to show them I’m a living livewire/ I’m the preacher, congregation and the choir”) and go-go-gospel choruses. It’s an all-out celebration capped by Taylor crowd surfing and another jubilant mass singalong.

There’s the Stax-style ballad The Love That Once Lingered with Dean Fairhurst of support act Standin’ Man filling in for Lady Blackbird as Taylor’s duet partner. Later in the set, there’s the psychedelic soul of Repeating History accompanied by the garrulous singer asking everyone to take tonight’s shared feelings of diversity and unity out into the world with them.

And those are just the new songs.

Vintage Trouble Electric Brixton 030823-006

Vintage Trouble Electric Brixton 030823-006

The classics are just as well represented — and received even more enthusiastically. Blues rock stomp Run Like The River, rollicking Blues Hand Me Down, and ray of sunshine Doin’ What You Were Doin’ are the perfect choice to kick off the set and introduce the band. On full display are guitarist Nalle Colt’s fluid slide playing and soloing, bass player Rick Barrio Dill‘s tireless swing, Richard Danielson‘s flashy fills and relentless kick drum, and Taylor’s twirls, jumps, and precarious microphone stand leans.

The Los Angeles quartet’s influences really come to the fore on a confident, muscular rendition of Stevie Wonder‘s Higher Ground, while Gracefully shows off the band’s more romantic side. As Taylor introduces the duet with the invitation to “dance with your lover”, he’s joined on stage by Amelia McFall. A Vintage Trouble fan (and talented singer) who introduced herself to the band at their Rough Trade East record signing in June, she adds a whole new dimension to the ballad with her smoky, sultry vocals. The cheers, whistles, and whoops of appreciation are well earned. 

The hard-hitting Knock Me Out brings back the punchy blues rock, with Taylor running around the stage perimeter as if he’s a boxer taunting his opponent, before the whole of Standin’ Man join in for a trippy take on Jefferson Airplane‘s White Rabbit. It’s a fitting end to a show that’s transported the London audience to another place and time — not unlike Alice’s adventures in Wonderland.

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Review of Vintage Trouble at Electric Brixton on 3rd August 2023 by Nils van der Linden. Photography by Simon Reed.

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