In the summer of 2011 – Newcastle’s hottest night of the year - an oversized tour bus squeezed into the cobbled lane that runs alongside The Cluny.
A tight space normally reserved for battered transit vans and converted motor homes, there was barely room for a customised vehicle more accustomed to vast arena car parks than rickety back roads.
However, inside the sleek black coach, four rock ‘n’ roll stars of the future were making the final preparations for what would go down as one of the greatest gigs of their brief career.
Vintage Trouble’s transport reflected their potential - if not their achievements to date – and that potential was fully realised inside a sweaty venue filled to capacity and witness to one of shows of the year.
It’s a night vocalist Ty Taylor remembers well and the primary reason Vintage Trouble are returning to Newcastle to play two shows in one night this evening.
The band will open up for The Who at the Metro Radio Arena before hopping across town to play their own headline show at Northumbria University.
“It’s no coincidence at all that we’re doing this in Newcastle,” said Taylor. “The last couple of times we’ve come over to the UK the people of Tyneside have been some of our biggest supporters.
“The Cluny show a couple of summers ago was rammed and sweaty and then we sold out The Sage (Gateshead) in no time. We just wanted to do something really special for the people of the North East and hopefully two shows in one night will be special!
“Of course it has to fit in with our schedule but this time it does. The simple fact that the late show’s in Newcastle means it will be cool.”
First up Vintage Trouble have 30 minutes to impress fans of The Who – a challenge they’ve faced with relish across the US this year.
“We’ve been given the chance to be a little more thorough in everything we do thanks to this tour,” added Taylor. “We have been given the opportunity to tour the world and had the chance to play arenas every night.
“But that’s presented it’s own challenges. We’ve worked hard to keep the same sense of sincerity and ‘down-homeness’ that characterise our club shows. The only way we could do that is by staying ‘small’ and that’s how we work on stage.
“On top of that part of my mission is to make sure that everyone stays connected to the band during a Vintage Trouble show. Even if it’s an arena show I really try to think of everyone in the crowd as some kind of energy-giving light.
“Making sure there’s a connection is almost like the end-game for us – but of course we only have 30 minutes when we’re opening up for The Who so it’s quite a challenge.”
The Who have handed over their production team and complete rig to ensure Vintage Trouble have the best opportunity possible to deliver a top notch support slot every night.
So just how did the chance come about to open up for one of the biggest rock bands on the planet?
“We won the Classic Rock Award in 2011 for Best New Band and at the same ceremony The Who won an award for the Quadrophenia documentary,” explained Taylor. “That’s how they became aware of us in the first instance.
“And that’s when Roger (Daltrey) asked us to do the Teenage Cancer Trust event at St Pancreas. We spent time with some of the teenage patients and it was very moving – that was a year ago – and it kind of affirmed our bond.
“Although it’s my belief that it takes time to reap your rewards in life - and that you must work hard to achieve your goals - I’m sure that first meeting with The Who and the work we did with the TCT helped us to stand out from the crowd when they were sifting through the 20-odd bands in with a shout of opening up on this tour.”
So far Vintage Trouble have yet to disappoint the thousands of fans flocking to see British rock royalty for what could well be the final time. And with The Who in blistering form, a fledgling partnership has quickly morphed into the full live package.
“I’m sure most people have read the reviews of The Who show,” added Talyor. “And the reviews have been great. People just really, really like this particular interpretation of The Who’s best material.
“There’s not as much storytelling but it’s still a triumph. In the past Pete Townsend has narrated a lot of material but this time he allows his and Roger (Daltrey)’s creativity to come to the fore. He allows Roger to run away with the concept and it’s thrilling.
“There is the usual strong imagery, of course, but I’ve heard from people who have seen The Who before that there’s a better flow to this show. As an evening of music it’s beautiful and the complementary images are gorgeous.
“It’s The Who – what’s not to like? But the visual side of things is amazing.”
:: Vintage Trouble support The Who at the Metro Radio Arena tonight before headlining at Northumbria University.