THE Smokin’ Spitfires are back in Darlington at the weekend and ready to get The Forum bouncing with their dynamic brand of horn-driven classic soul and original rhythm ’n’ blues.

The band have their roots in a legendary Darlington band who first played 40 years ago this year in the upstairs room of The Travellers Rest in Cockerton – The East Side Torpedoes.

Singer-songwriter Neil Hunter and trombonist Terry ‘Ernie’ O’Hern were with the Torpedoes during the years when they toured unceasingly, including four Newcastle City Hall appearances, played festivals, had a weekly Sunday residency at the Newcastle Playhouse and so nearly made the big breakthrough with an album, Coast to Coast, produced by Chas Chandler of The Animals.

The pair formed the Smokin’ Spitfires in 2003. The band now plays mainly in the north of the region and a monthly ‘first Sunday’ gig at The Cluny in Newcastle has been running for almost six years, raising thousands of pounds for The Bubble Foundation charity.

The current, well-established, line-up is Hunter (vocals), Bob Garrington (guitar), Ian Rigby (bass), Gary Cain (drums), Mike Hepple (Hammond organ) and the horn section of sax players Alan Thompson and Steve McGarvie and O’Hern on trombone.

But for Darlington an eight-piece isn’t enough so the band will become The Mighty Smokin’ Spitfires with the addition of Dave Blakey on trumpet and Lloyd Howell on percussion.

Expect a heady mix of soul classics and Hunter-penned originals, both recent and vintage Torpedoes tunes.

The Mighty Smokin’ Spitfires, The Forum, Darlington, DL1 1SG. Saturday, February 24, doors 7.30pm, on stage 8.30pm, standing only. Box office: 01325 363135 or visit