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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fun while the flakes fly…

On October 10, 1979, the city of Philadelphia had its earliest ever measurable snowfall when just over two inches of snow accumulated on the streets during a surprise autumn storm. That night, a band from Texas called Fandango headlined at the Bijou Café. Yes, with Fandango’s presence it marked the first time vocalist Joe Lynn Turner graced a Philadelphia stage, long before he went on to sing with Blackmore’s Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force, and Deep Purple. But the night was also memorable because of the opening band, a young quartet from Ireland called U2, who attacked the stage as if they were headliners in a much larger venue than this small club. As neither band was well known, the inclement weather held the crowd down to a mere dozen, including yours truly - although hundreds now claim to have been downstairs off Lombard Street that cold night.

Last night, well into March, Philadelphia experienced one of its latest snowfalls on record. And though the accumulation was negligible, once again there were musical fireworks among the flakes. This time the venue was the small upstairs room at West Philadelphia’s World Café Live complex.


Leogun: hair, volume, and rock!

First on stage was Leogun, a London-based trio managed by Elton John’s Rocket Music firm. The band released their first EP in October on a new label created by Yamaha instruments (Yamaha Entertainment Group), and the four-song self-titled disc is a calling card for a full LP soon to come. But perhaps the best calling card Leogun has is their live set. Power trio sightings have been few and far between in recent years, but Leogun flies the heavy flag with pride, near equals with legendary forbearers like Humble Pie. And if they aren’t quite as scruffy as Motorhead, that’s only because their interests lean more to the weightier offerings of Led Zeppelin, where song craft is as important as the throttle being wide open. Leogun bears watching, without a doubt.


What turned out to be a little snow did not scare off a packed house.

Los Angeles’ Vintage Trouble was the sold-out show’s headliner, fresh off a second stint with The Who. Over and over I’ve read comments from people unaware of this band who, after seeing them open for the British legends in cavernous arenas, fell hard for them. I can now tell you that in small clubs the intensity of Vintage Trouble is far more powerful.


Vintage Trouble brings it on home Upstairs at World Cafe Live.

In these bizarre days when banjos and self-pity have stormed the charts, Vintage Trouble is a tight rock and roll band, one with a solid R&B influence that flavors its charismatic presence. While reports from the Lumineers recent headlining show at the Tower Theater indicate they had difficulty filling a full hour, playing the mind-numbing “Ho Hey” twice in the short set, Vintage Trouble conveys the spirit that this is a band with no shortage of substance. New material made up part of the near 90-minute show, and it was easily as good as their increasingly-known songs from the band’s debut album The Bomb Shelter Sessions.

Ty Taylor works the crowd, and he works it so well.

Singer Ty Taylor is the band’s live focal point, a true showman whose stage presence is undeniable, whether dancing up a storm center stage or rambling out into the crowd to make sure everyone’s having a good time. He’s best described as the polar opposite of “aloof.” Guitarist Nalle Colt takes on one of the riskiest jobs in rock - playing the only lead instrument. Mostly wielding a Les Paul, Colt is up to the task, widely varying his style from subtle soulful accents to hard rock assaults. And the rhythm section cannot be denied - drummer Richard Danielson and bassist Rick Barrio Dill thrust the songs forward with undeniable groove, but also instantly adapt to any curve balls thrown their way by Taylor.

Anyone who wants a quick peek into what Vintage Trouble is capable of need look no further than the band’s December appearance on David Letterman’s show (see video below). Like Jimi Hendrix’s assault on Monterey, this video shows a band going for the throat to make the most of an opportunity. Perhaps the most amazing thing seems to be that this is what they’re like every night.



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