They’ve been missed, as this show proves…

It’s amazing how quickly bands are forgotten nowadays. A constant stream of The New makes it possible to enjoy one and then quickly move onto the next as soon as a band slips away from mainstream attention to turn their focus to writing and recording new material.   

The Vaccines’ first performance of the calendar year, and also their first appearance on UK soil for a very long time, is held in a relatively intimate seaside venue – the point being to usher in the material from forthcoming third album ‘English Graffiti’, acquainting their audience with where their material is headed next.

From the moment the foursome casually strolls onto the stage to a rousing reception, The Vaccines embark on a familiar set drawing, inevitably, on the past – but more excitingly on their future. The familiar chimes of opener ‘Blow It Up’ swiftly give way to the equally fleet-footed ‘Teenage Icon’ and ‘Wreckin’ Bar’ – a trio of songs that instantly highlight that The Vaccines know full well how to best please their crowd. 

When singer Justin Young tells us that “It’s good to be back” after this trio of songs have been pelted through, the sentiment’s palpably sincere. Being here, right now, means by him as much as it does to the throng of beaming faces before him. But such communication is a rarity tonight – talk is kept to a minimum, with the focus instead directed towards a clutch of new songs positioned amongst the best-known numbers.

With two quick-fire albums released in 2011 and 2012, The Vaccines’ extended absence to write a new chapter in the band’s existence has felt doubly long. But the new fare that’s blossomed from this three-year break between LPs shares plenty of parallels with previous songs. It’s after a joyous ‘Ghost Town’ that the set takes its first diversion into the unknown, ‘Dream Lover’ possessing a post-punk edge and displaying a sturdy rock base. But it’s not so much of a straying from the band’s reliable blueprints of ear-hooking melodies and lyrics that spin around the head long after the song in question’s finished.

Another new cut is ‘I Want You So Bad’, which bears evidence of cues taken from The Cure’s 1980s peak period at its core, such nostalgia stirred mainly by a stalking bassline and some atmospheric yet restrained guitar work. It won’t necessarily persuade the doubters that this band is anything more than three chords and some repetitive wordplay, but The Vaccines show tonight that rock ‘n’ roll needn’t be complex when it’s delivered at breakneck speed and with several armfuls of passion.

‘Post Break-Up Sex’ remains a post-Strokes perspective on garage rock, and also serves as a reminder that while The Vaccines are resistant to wandering too far from established templates, their connection with any crowd is naturally strong. ‘Melody Calling’ does shake things up a bit, by way of being decidedly less-frantic than most songs aired, but that pace is once again accelerated by ‘Handsome’, the band’s imminent single another of their typically high-energy offerings.

‘If You Wanna’ brings the main set to a close, bodies tumbling over the barrier as the band saunter off, unfazed, only to return with another new song, ‘20/20’, and a climax-proper in ‘Nørgaard’. The audience hits fever pitch, an acknowledgement that while The Vaccines mightn’t be the most devastatingly original rockers on the block, these streets have been poorer for their absence.

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Words: Nathan Westley
Photography: Mike Burnell

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