|Vintage Trouble - Abertillery Blues Rock Festival - July 13th 2012|
|Written by Gaz E|
|Thursday, 26 July 2012 05:00|
If you don't know me then I guess you'd expect this review to simply be that of a fantastic band that Uber Rock has championed ever since we first laid ears on them: if you know a little about this website then you'll know that seeing such a band in the site's hometown offered a potentially revelatory experience and you might expect a review that simply explains such a thing.....and in both cases you'd be correct, there's just a little more to it.
Firstly, few people - including those that greeted me as I entered the gorgeous surroundings of Abertillery Park - would know that I actually worked at many of the gigs put on by the Blues Club who operate in Blaenau Gwent: that I took Eugene Hideaway Bridges to Mynydd Lodge in Cwmtillery where he would rest his post-gig weary head and wake up one morning na-na na-nuh; that I took Nine Below Zero to Ping's Place to feed their post-gig bellies with takeaway food; that the beer for every show was delivered to myself and co-workers at the venue by a handsome gentleman named Paul 'Zoot' Morgan Williams....
Secondly, as a young child I spent many Saturday afternoons in this very location; a place that once prickled with an electricity and excitement long since extinguished by money, the root of all evil. Yes, sport, like industry in this and surrounding areas, almost crawled away to die, crippled under the wheels of so-called progress. For these very reasons I have always applauded the fact that passionate music fans have driven against convention and organised their own blues festival - now with added 'rock' to the event name - just because they wanted to. Shamefully being too busy to attend in previous years, it has taken the addition of Vintage Trouble to the bill to make me, and my uber colleagues, make the short trip to a location that is breathtakingly stunning: for people travelling into the town for the festival, the sight that greets them must surely impress; for locals who rarely find the need to investigate these parts these days reminded without question that the place that surrounds them is as - if not more - beautiful as anywhere else in the country. For me personally, well, there are ghosts all around me. It's a nice feeling, if a little sad, and only adds to the emotional atmosphere that will resonate around this place before the night is out, the electricity and excitement returning with interest.
Crowd favourites Virgil and the Accelerators had done their job well and warmed everyone in the big top-style tent up nicely, even if the glorious summer weather outside was quenching the turf's thirst, heavily. The festival's set-up, it has to be noted, is excellent: not acting above its station, purely simple and welcoming. While the likes of another fan-fave, Dave Arcari, and the legendary Zombies, featuring original members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, would give rock 'n' roll to you on the festival's second day, for Uber Rock it was all about Friday the 13th when, lucky for those who in attendance, Vintage Trouble threatened to turn in one of the - if not the - finest performances that the town has ever witnessed.
It's clear that many of the people at the festival on this warm yet wet Friday night are either long-term VT lovers or simply people who have seen them at similar festivals and been blown away: the blues aficionados might forever claim that it's not exactly their kind of music but few hold up their hands come throwing out time and say that they haven't witnessed something special: by the time Vintage Trouble have issued a 'Bomb Shelter Sessions' one-two-three of 'Blues Hand Me Down', 'Still And Always Will' and 'Nancy Lee' there is a riot goin' on. 'You Better Believe It' - couldn't have picked the setlist better to prove the point, could they? - follows and the tent is a mass of moving, grooving bodies, the grass underfoot more accustomed to bodies reacting to foul play rather than soul. The shapes thrown get even more outrageous and sexy as 'Total Strangers' and 'Come On By' flow smoothly out of the speakers and into our lives, 'Get It Before What Is To Be Got Is Gone' flooring any doubters, surely.
I marvelled at Vintage Trouble on their last UK tour, catching them in December when it seemed that guitarist Nalle Colt's side of the stage was host to the older, male six-string fan, while the rest of the crowd - including many beautiful ladies - stood on tip toes to get a good look at frontman Ty Taylor: tonight is a little different, with everyone seeming to be as one. Seriously, the atmosphere is emotional to say the least: I thought it was just me, purely down to the location, that this most wonderful of bands had graced us with its presence, but, as Ty breaks down and cries during 'Not Alright By Me' I realise that I'm not alone. As Nalle takes the singalong breakdown of the song to tune up, Ty turns away from his audience and, as Richard Danielson leans towards him over his drums and bassist Rick Barrio Dill moves to face him, the three are visibly struggling to hold it together - a more striking and touching image I have not seen on a stage in a long, long time. 'Nobody Told Me' follows and, again, high emotion ripples through the air, the crowd and band as one.
The band have the runs - 'Run Baby Run' and the jaw dropping 'Run Outta You' - lined up as the wonderful set draws to a close, finishing with Ty in the crowd, everyone down on their haunches, 'Strike Your Light (Right On Me)' pushing the night into the zone of religious experience. Ty is barely back on the stage when it is time for them to leave it: they don't do the clichéd pre-encore walk off, however, returning from side-stage to run through the sexiest encore in recent history as everyone joins Taylor in....err...pushing their pelvis with him for the sultry righteously charged 'Pelvis Pusher'.
At times it was quite bizarre being stood in a large red and blue striped tent crackling with atmosphere looking out at the rain lashing down onto the field through the entrance. A rain that would, quite fittingly, dissipate by the time Ty, Rick, Nalle and Richard had left the stage and journeyed immediately outside to meet and greet the fans: a nicer, friendlier band you will struggle to meet.
It was with amazement that the elders at Uber Rock welcomed the news that Vintage Trouble were to be playing Abertillery; it was much less of a surprise that the band performed such a winner of a set, the atmosphere and level of emotion that accompanied it the only thing that was truly unexpected.
As I walked out of Abertillery Park at around midnight I turned for another look around this place that holds so many memories for myself, a glorious new one created moments before, knowing that I would be back to be haunted by these ghosts once more.
[Photos by Russ P]
To pick up a copy of 'The Bomb Shelter Sessions (Ltd Edt Double CD)' - CLICK HERE