THE Smokin’ Spitfires return to their spiritual home of Darlington for a gig at The Forum on Friday, September 22.

The band traces its roots back to 1978 when the still-remembered East Side Torpedoes played their first gig in the upstairs room of the Travellers Rest in the town.

And The Smokin’ Spitfires – featuring Torpedoes vocalist and songwriter Neil Hunter and trombone player Terry O’Hern – have been performing their unique combination of soul and rhythm ‘n’ blues originals and covers of Stax and Atlantic classics since 2003.

Their annual Christmas gigs, mostly at the now-closed Arts Centre, were a fixture in the Darlington live music calendar.

The band’s monthly first Sunday of the month residency at The Cluny in Newcastle is regularly packed and does sterling service in raising money for the Bubble Foundation charity.

In the early 80s The East Side Torpedoes recorded an album called Coast to Coast, produced by Chas Chandler, formerly of The Animals. They were played on radio by John Peel and John Walters and a single featured as the weekly powerplay on Radio Luxembourg, then a key pop broadcaster. They appeared at Knebworth and Tyne Tees TV made a 30-minute film about them.

In their current incarnation The Smokin’ Spitfires are an eight-piece band featuring a splendid three-man horn section. At their last Forum date the audience’s enthusiasm was such that tables and chairs had to be shifted out of the room at half-time to make more space, so early booking would seem to be recommended. With a full strength line-up on show fans can expect a storming set of classics and originals.

* The Smokin’ Spitfires, The Forum Music Centre, Borough Road, Darlington, DL1 1SG. Tel 01325 363135. Tickets £10. Doors open 7.30pm, starts 8.30pm. Standing only.