Gig Review by Simon Saynor with Photography by Mark Loraine

The Vaccines storm into Sheffield on the back of their 4th studio album ‘Combat Sports’, released just 2 weeks previously. It’s hard to pigeonhole The Vaccines. They’re not your standard indie rock outfit, for a start several songs have a definite 50s influence. You’d never catch Alex Turner writing a song like ‘Teenage Icon’ and The Vaccines are all the better for it. If Arctic Monkeys are the Manchester City of indie music then The Vaccines are Burnley – underrated, sometimes forgotten about but hard to beat and nestled comfortably in the top ten. Walking out of the O2 Friday night I heard several people say “I’d forgot how many of their songs I knew and loved”. Let’s not forget every album The Vaccines have released has gone top 5.

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‘Combat Rock’ is a return to the rock feel of debut album ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines’ but with a more polished edge. They open with the blistering, guitar laden banger that is latest single ‘Nightclub’. We sometimes lose Justin Hayward-Young’s voice under the ferocity of Freddie Cowan’s guitar attack, that boy can really play though. They plough straight into debut single ‘Wreckin’ Bar’ and then the first, of many, massive singalongs with ‘Teenage Icon’. This, sometimes forgot about band sold out the O2 pretty rapidly. It’s a diverse crowd and all of them singing as loud as their collective lungs would allow.

The opening keyboard drone of ‘Wetsuit’ kicks in, “Do you know what’s coming Sheffield?” enquires Justin. I was lucky enough to interview Justin and Arni Arnason some five years ago when they played Doncaster on the back of 2nd album, ‘Come Of Age’ and we talked about how the band were becoming the ultimate festival band, based mostly on ‘Wetsuit’ and its accompanying video. The O2 crowd obviously feel it too as the stage is obscured by people on shoulders. Again the crowd are word perfect and deafening. Justin could have sat this one out if he’d chosen to. It was my personal highlight of stunning set, crowd and band as one. It’s what live music is all about.

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Before ‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’ from the new album Justin mentions the band coming from London to a chorus of (good natured) boos followed by what would seem to be the compulsory ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ chant. I’m a proud Yorkshireman but I really hate that chant at gigs. ‘If you’d let me finish’ interrupts Justin, ‘We’re from London but the new album was recorded here in Sheffield’. Massive cheers. Vaccines won that one.

‘If you sing this as well as you do Yorkshire you’ll be fine’ leads us into 2nd single, the iconic ‘Post Break-Up Sex’. I love that song though maybe years of performing it lead to a slightly lazy rendition tonight. They’re back on fire with fan favourite ‘Norgaard’ and from there on in it’s a relentless mix of old and new songs delivered as if their lives depend on it. To fully appreciate The Vaccines they have to be seen live. Quite simply, they deliver.

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‘No Hope’ kicks off the encores before the opening track off ‘Combat Sports’, ‘Put It On A T-Shirt’, ‘If that’s true about the both of us they should put it on a t-shirt’. Can’t help but think they missed a trick with the merchandising with that in their armour. ‘All In White’ from the debut album closes proceedings. A glorious slow burner of a song that builds to an epic climax. It’s a natural show closer.

The Vaccines have shown, once again, that they really are a force to be reckoned with. A match for any band on their day.

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Set List:
Nightclub
Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)
Teenage Icon
Dream Lover
Wetsuit
Bad Mood
20/20
Out On The Street
Melody Calling
Your Love Is My Favourite Band
Post Break-Up Sex
Norgaard
Surfing In The Sky
A Lack Of Understanding
Take It Easy
Handsome
I Always Knew
If You Wanna
I Can’t Quit
Encore:
No Hope
Put It On A T-Shirt
All In White

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