Quality over quantity...

It’s been one hell of a year for The Vaccines with their meteoric rise from relative obscurity to headlining a sold out HMV Forum. Their music is now instantly recognisable, yet we are surprised to see that the band are not; for as we wait outside the Forum, we watch all four Vaccines saunter by the queue towards the stage entrance without so much as a peep or second glance from the hordes of people that eagerly await to see them.

With only one studio album tucked under their belt, we are not expecting the longest of sets tonight; but with all the hype surrounding this London quartet, we are hoping for quality. Opening with ‘Blow It Up’, the show gets off to quite a timid start. The audience emanates an air of expectance yet remain reserved. Lead singer Justin Young soon engages us with some lighthearted banter, and comments on the vocal troubles he’s been having. He encourages the crowd to help him out, and in no time we are all singing along to ‘Post Break Up Sex’.

Their music is deeply rooted in sixties garage, bearing a strong resemblance to the early Beatles with their synchronized bop, on stage camaraderie and jovial rapport, with Justin Young’s Lennon-esque moves being executed with a cheeky smile.

With the humidity of August encapsulating London, the Forum is pretty much turned into a sweatbox. This, however, is in no way hindering the enthusiasm of a crowd frantically bouncing about to ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’. Justin may have vocal problems, but it is not getting in the way of tonight’s performance – even the grand ballad of ‘Wetsuit’ is sung beautifully with a heart-felt grace that just draws you in.

We’re journeying from ballads to more foot-stomping, galloping beats. And by the time ‘If You Wanna’ reaches its chorus and the crowd begin to clap along in time, the band end the song in a deafening applause from rapturous hands. Then, drenched in a smoky back-lit blue haze, the opening chords to the slow-building ‘Family Friend’ begins to resonate out, setting the mood perfectly. And upon reaching it’s pounding climax, The Vaccines thank us for coming and leave the stage.

It’s not too long till they are back and playing a new song. It isn’t going down too well, but its soon forgotten as a roar goes up for ‘Norgaard’. Getting knocked about by the stream of crowd-surfing bodies soon puts pay to Justin’s barrier wonderings. Yet it does not deter guitarist Freddie Cowan who jumps down and into the crowd, playing aloft a sea of outstretched arms. It’s good to see the rock ‘n’ roll spirit is alive and well, and with Freddie kindly floated back to the stage the night comes to an end. Yes it was short, but it was quality.

Words by Vanessa Higgins
Photo by Patrick Ford

View a full accompanying photo gallery from The Vaccines' gig at London's HMV Forum on 23rd August 2011 HERE.

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