The Vaccines And Francois & The Atlas Mountains

Barclaycard Mercury Prize Sessions
The Vaccines And Francois & The Atlas Mountains - Live At The Hospital Club, London
Whoever said musicians couldn’t dance and play instruments obviously never met French collective Francois & the Atlas Mountains. Churning through an eclectic set of songs based on African style drumming, indie style guitar riffs and even some stereotypical French techno, this diverse support act show that there can be substance to danceable music, and it’s made even all the more beautiful when they sing it in their native tongue.

The Vaccines: the band that people loved... then just didn’t. A group that passed the dreaded start of the year hype laid on them by excessive music magazine and Radio 1 coverage, but it was this severe overplay that would lead to their dismissal of early fans. If they were to ever win people back, they were going to have to create something special.

“It’s true,” Justin says “we are that posh.” Half the crowd giggles, half the crowd awkwardly stares at each other because they know it’s deadly true as he explains the origins of early song ‘Blow It Up’, as it was recorded in The Hospital Club headquarters.

Dry humour and regular songs aside, tonight’s show opens with latest single ‘No Hope’ and relies heavily on new material, suggesting maybe they are leaving their top ten debut behind them. This theory is backed up by the lack of one of their biggest singles: ‘Post Break Up Sex’. “That was a bit of an abrupt finish,” a crowd member says as The Vaccines storm off stage at 8:55pm. But their new material more than makes up for this absent anthem. ‘Teenage Icon’ is set to become their greatest song yet, with Justin pleading to the crowd with one of their signature catchy chorus: “I’m no teenage icon, I’m no Frankie Avalon”.

Their new material shows growth in their songwriting, with Young’s lyrics evolving to a higher level of brutal self-destructive honesty: “I don’t really care about anybody else when I haven’t got my own life figured out” (‘No Hope’). They keep what makes them The Vaccines, but something is different. Maybe it’s The Horrors’ blood that runs through guitarist Freddie’s veins that allows some sort of radical transformation to ensue, but it seems that they are much happier playing this second record. Taking into context the slightly cheesy second album title, it is possible that the band have actually “come of age” and found themselves.

They do squeeze a few of their most well-known songs in to please the heavy fans of ‘What Did You Expect...’ with the likes of ‘Wreckin’ Bar’, ‘Wetsuit’ and ‘Norgaard’, but undoubtedly the key highlight is the bright future they have set up for themselves with this exciting new material.

The Vaccines may now have a legacy to leave, one that isn’t founded on lads at Ibiza Rocks shouting “play that yan ‘bout shagging.”

Words by Jamie Carson

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