The Vaccines at Roundhouse, London, UK – 9th February 2019

Posted by Bianca on Saturday Feb 9, 2019 Under Indie rock

Gig Review by Ryan Beardsley with Photography by Jeremy Carron

As anyone who reads my reviews regularly (Hi Mum!) may have noticed, I’m something of a snob when it comes to music, I’m afraid I just can’t help myself. There’s little I detest more than faux artistry in music, particularly when orchestrated via by the numbers ‘Indie’ bands masquerading with delusions of grandeur, see The 1975 for a perfect example.

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On the contrary, I have always reserved a special place in my heart for a number of bands whom others might consider to be derivative or even shallow. Particularly when musicians such as this ply their trade with zero pretensions or misconceptions about their output, essentially creating music they love and believe in for fans who will always adore them. As a counterpoint, think the Wombats as another case in point.

Which brings us nicely to The Vaccines, who in the past, have been looked down upon in critical circles for being unashamedly an ‘Indie Rock’ outfit, but when it works so well and clearly connects with people so effectively, who has the right to pour scorn on such a successful formula, especially when the boys in the band are so clearly bloody lovely?

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In this spirit, the band embark on stage to the sound of I Want To Break Free at a sold-out Camden Roundhouse for a second consecutive night, with the stage décor resembling a summer party at a Working Men’s Club; palm trees, beach balls and gold glitter streamers adorning the set, it’s abundantly clear this is a group who refuse to take themselves seriously.

They kick off with Your Love is My New Favourite Band and the crowd goes berserk, beers, shirts and even the odd shoe go flying through the air and the party is well underway. Teenage Icon, a catchy single from their sophomore effort Come Of Age follows and I can’t help but have my attention diverted from the band to the audience itself. With a rare position up in the seated section I have a birds-eye view of the swarming masses and I can’t remember the last time I saw a crowd so rowdy and so hypnotised by the music.

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This is especially true for the younger fans, as the Roundhouse is packed full of teens who must have been in single digits at the release of the debut record What Did You Expect… when it was released almost a decade ago. To my pleasant surprise, they’re clearly still grabbing new fans.

Wetsuit sends chills down my curved, comfortably seated spine and the mass singalong led by Justin Young as he parades across the tropical scenery is truly a sight to behold. They follow this with 90 second pop-punk blast Wrecking Bar, daring anyone in attendance not to rise up and pogo stick along, except for yours truly as I was swiftly rebuked and told to sit back down by Roundhouse staff…

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Post Break Up Sex and Norgaard are greeted with the obligatory mass sing-alongs and despite their now impressive back catalogue, it is the hits from their debut effort that get the crowd going at their wildest and I’m happy to say these songs have stood the test of time. It’s been about a year since their last offering in the shape of 2018’s warmly received Combat Sports which came in at number 4 in the album charts. I wouldn’t have thought it myself, but the Vaccines have had more longevity and success than almost all of their so-called peers. There can’t be many UK Indie acts with four consecutive top 5 albums, if there are, feel free to correct me in the comments (politely).

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The Vaccines finest hour is still No Hope, their second album opener was an anthem back in 2012, but could have been written last week as the themes have never been more relevant for Britain’s young and despondent, as well as millennials like myself, a fact not lost on the band as it is the most passionate showing of the evening.

Chit chat and non-musical interactions with the crowd are few and far between, and Justin Young is almost clumsy as he attempts to make comparisons between last nights crowd and tonight’s offering, but if anything it makes him and the band more endearing, they just seem like nice lads.

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I suddenly remember that I once met the band after seeing them perform in my hometown of Doncaster. They were doing the dreaded post-gig DJ set at Donny’s only alternative nightspot and I happened to be heading towards the venue as they were leaving and in a drunken stupor made a beeline to question why they had omitted my favourite song from the setlist. I recall they looked genuinely startled by my presence, and at 5’9 and 10.5 stone, (back then anyway, sob) I’m hardly an intimidating sight. Clearly, they didn’t learn their lesson as they once again did not play Somebody Else’s Child.

The show ends with All In White and is akin to a religious experience for the devoted fans in attendance and a clearly emotional band. Maybe it’s because I was not tired from standing through a gig for once, but I was genuinely sad to see the West Londoners shuffle off the stage leaving the Roundhouse looking like the aftermath of a 15 year old’s first house party.

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All in all, a fine show. I came in with fairly measured expectations, a fan but not a fanatic but I was really pleasantly surprised, not only by a well-chosen setlist and an enthusiastic performance by the band but also through the clear connection they forged with the young crowd in attendance.

What’s next for The Vaccines then I hear you not asking? I don’t believe they played any new material but if it’s not broke why fix it? I’m sure they’ll be a regular fixture on the UK festival scene this summer and there’ll be thousands of fans as well as plenty of newbies just waiting to be converted via their unashamedly Indie Rock jams, I’m looking forward to it already.

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