Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Live Review: The Vaccines, O2 Academy Newcastle, 21/11/2011

Their impact hasn't quite reverberated overseas, but in the UK at least The Vaccines have been the new band of 2011. Fresh from an a prestigious slot opening for the Arctic Monkeys and having comprehensively smashed the summer festivals, this really has been an enormous year for the London quartet, and as such there wasn't a ticket to spare for this -the first date on their biggest headline tour to date. In fact, their popularity is such that this particular run of dates was more akin to a victory lap than a promotional jaunt, something which was reflected by the celebratory atmosphere from the moment they took to the stage. On top of that, the main support of the night came from excellent local indie-pop band Frankie & The Heartstrings, meaning that this particular gig often felt like a co-headliner what with the reception they received from the appreciative home crowd.

Before all of that, though, Minneapolis four-piece Howler were assigned the task of warming up a room which was already packed to breaking point. Luckily, their Strokes-lite indie-rock anthems were right up this crowd's alley, and so their rock-solid set was warmly received by the vast majority of onlookers. Their debut LP America Give Up is out in January, and on this evidence their high octane hooks could provide an early year treat. Frankie & The Heartstrings were even better, showcasing songs from their album Hunger as well as three new songs from its in the works successor. Spectacularly camp frontman Frankie Francis may look like a bit of a prat prancing around the stage in his own unique manner, but it's that charisma which makes his band such a thrilling proposition, and doubles over as great on stage entertainment. Their vibrant indie-pop gems are their main weapon, though, and with songs as catchy as 'Tender' and 'Hunger' it's pretty hard to imagine them not being enjoyable.

If anything, The Vaccines possess an even more addictive streak, something that's helped their debut album What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? towards gold certification. Much like Howler before them, they're a no-thrills indie collective who rely almost entirely on the quality of their songs to build forward momentum. Unfortunately, their record was a little patchy, with only a handful of songs you could describe as great and a host of others which would be best filed under decent, but little more. Curiously, it was one of those lesser lights, 'All In White' which actually provided the highlight of their set, though, popular single 'If You Wanna' pushed it all the way and along with 'Norgaard' and 'Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)' drew an especially frenzied reaction from the adoring masses.

The biggest singalong of the night was reserved for slow-burner 'Wetsuit,' but regrettably that song isn't half as good as most in attendance would have had you believe, something which truthfully could be said about the majority of what they played. Headlining tours on stages this large are a strenuous examination for bands that only have one album under their belts, and unfortunately the patchiness of The Vaccines debut effort rubbed off on this performance. Make no mistake; they had their peaks, but a four or five great songs (two of which last little over a minute) is nowhere near enough to carry an hour long slot, and although they were never boring these limitations certainly had a detracting effect. Should they produce a killer second album, they may well develop into the great live act many already see them as, but for now they're merely more hyped equals of bands such as the pair who opened for them.

1 comment:

  1. ha ha ha were you even there? The place was jumping. Wetsuit - 'not as good as the crowd would have you believe' er so they're all pretending to love it? Wow although looking at your taste in music this review doesn't surprise or the dreadful writing. Taxi for Welford