‘What did you expect…’
The Vaccines never really fit. Too smart for the Courteeners crowd and too rowdy for the Radiohead lovers, the London band were forced to find a niche all of their own. A sold-out crowd in Sheffield don’t seem to mind.
‘Nightclub’ serves as an uneasy opener as Justin Haywood-Young’s vocals are lost somewhat under the punishing squeal of Freddie Cowan’s incendiary guitar. The unmistakable riff from ‘Wreckin’ Bar’ allays any fears about sound quality however and from there the band never look back.
The Vaccines biggest criticism and perhaps their greatest strength is that they have written the same brilliant song 40 times and while ‘Out on The Street’ and ‘Melody Calling’ do merge somewhat, when you sound this good it doesn’t matter much.
‘Dream Lover’ sounds massive, ‘Wetsuit’ is the singalong that the rowdy Yorkshire crowd asked for and ’20/20′ remains as effervescent as ever. A sleepy run through of ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ is perhaps a misstep but a fierce rendering of ‘Norgaard’ acts as the perfect palette cleanser.
Haywood-Young doesn’t need to say much between songs, as with his albums, he prefers short bursts of manic energy, but he does comment on the fact that their latest album Combat Sports was recorded in Sheffield, to raptorous applause. The songs from the new record feel like a return to the bands rock roots with ‘Surfing in the Sky’ and ‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’ proving particularly effective.
A thrilling and debauched ‘If You Wanna’ is followed by ‘I Can’t Quit’ to close out the first part of the set. The band return to the stage to deliver the knockout blow that is ‘No Hope’ and it is a testament to new track ‘Put It on A T-Shirt’ that it seems to belong as part of the encore. ‘All in White’ has always been a massive track and it sounds gigantic here with Haywood-Young getting the crowd going and Cowan launching an unforgiving attack on his guitar. As a live band, The Vaccines do exactly what they do on record. A short, sharp assault on the senses and just like that, they are gone.
I opened this piece by saying that The Vaccines never really fit. On a balmy Friday night in Sheffield, the London band have never looked more at home.