If this was a movie it could well have been titled Two Proposals and a Wedding as two people popped the question on stage during the show while a wedding party complete with bride and full entourage entered the after show party to a spontaneous eruption of applause.
This was no ordinary night. This was New Year`s Eve and The Sage was ready to party.
For those with a few quid to spare after Christmas there was a rather splendid six course meal just for one last blow out before the start of the New Year diet but those coming just for the music opening band Big Boss Man were the perfect hors d`oeuvre. Their up-tempo Hammond organ powered set evoked images of the great Booker T and the MG`s where the swagger of Beat Breakfast and the drum/bongo duel of Party 7 filled the Sage with a feel good party vibe.
The Sage pulled off something of a coup landing Vintage Trouble to headline their New Year`s Eve party. Their unique brand of Soul infused Rock has won many plaudits worldwide since bursting onto the scene with The Bomb Shelter Sessions in 2011. In the UK it was an explosive appearance on the Jools Holland show that really ignited their career and they haven’t looked back since.
For a band that has toured with such diverse acts as The Who, AC/DC, Paloma Faith and Bon Jovi, Vintage Trouble have honed their craft to perfection playing for fans across the musical spectrum. Years on the road playing here, there and everywhere have paid dividends making them one of the most in demand new bands around.
Always impeccably dressed, looking more like Moss Bros models than Rock stars, Vintage Trouble are the personification of cool but tonight lead singer Ty Taylor surpassed even himself dressed in dinner suit and top hat that would have made Fred Astaire look like a scruff. It was New Year`s Eve and Taylor was dressed to impress.
A groove heavy Come Together opened the show with Taylor looking well sassy as guitarist Nalle Colt provided the grit while bassist Rick Barrio Dill and drummer Richard Danielson nailed the rhythm to the floor.
For an hour and a quarter Vintage Trouble strode effortlessly across genres from Soul (Nobody Told Me), to the breezy summer Calypso of Doin` What You Were Doin’ and the slide guitar Blues stomp-a-long of Run Like The River where Taylor ended up in the balcony with the fans directing the band from the crowd. The biting social commentary of new song The Battle Ends gave an edge to the night. It was non-stop old school entertainment done in a fresh, modern way even to the extent of Taylor playing the ringmaster for not one but two proposals of marriage on stage during the show.
If you can imagine the moves of a young James Brown with the voice of Otis Redding fronting the Black Crowes then you wouldn`t be a million miles away. Taylor`s energy in particular was electric and endless as he ramped up the atmosphere with each song.
Every band has that firecracker that just pushes the show over the edge and Blues Hand Me Down`s enigmatic power and passion lit the touch paper for the night. The Sage was absolutely Rocking.
In a moment of intense reflection Taylor called for a moment of silence to remember those artists and loved ones that are no longer with us. 2016 has been a particularly harrowing year to lose musical icons and Taylor`s rendition of George Michael`s One More Try was deeply touching.
With midnight looming a super charged Strike Your Light complete with gospel inspired sing along brought the show to an exuberant and exhausting end.
The Phil Davids Good Times Band provided a few choice covers in the concourse in the run up to midnight before the countdown to 2017 was heralded in with Vintage Trouble overlooking the spectacular fireworks from the Quayside across the River Tyne.
What a way to end 2016. Happy New Year.