They’ve come a long way in just two years but with two acclaimed albums under their belt, The Vaccines are back on home turf for their biggest headline show to date, playing to ten thousand folk at Ally Pally. There is somewhat of a buzz throughout the venue and as they walk on stage to ‘Cum on Feel the Noize’ you can tell that this is a going to be a pretty special show for all involved.
They kick off with recent single ‘No Hope’ and the diverse crowd from groups of lads, kids with dads, couples and indie kids alike are jumping about and sending pints flying everywhere. There’s not too much chatter and they frenetically go into ‘Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ and it really starts to kick off for this ninety-second punk song. Latest single ‘I Always Knew’ slows the pace down a little with its marching drum beat but goes to show that there’s a bit more to them than quick catchy two minute radio hits, and shows off the newfound confidence they are exuding since their coming of age. Frontman Justin Young is unrecognisable from when he used to play on his own under the name of Jay Jay Pistolet but watching him stalk the stage tonight, this is obviously the kind of band he was meant to be in.
There’s a bit of a false start to Strokesy sounding ‘Tiger Blood’, showing that even the most seasoned of bands can make a few mistakes. Saying that, they must be one of the hardest working bands around at the moment, not seeming to have stopped for the past couple of years. Fair enough though, it has obviously paid off and they get the biggest sing-along of the night for ‘Wetsuit’. When we last caught them at Reading Festival there were a fair few people in the crowd wearing wetsuits standing on shoulders, we don’t see any of that tonight, but the lad in front has honoured the occasion with a picture of a wetsuit on his phone holding it in the air. It made us chuckle, anyway.
Even when they come to playing first album tracks ‘Under Your Thumb’ and ‘A Lack of Understanding’ the pace doesn’t let up and they could easily be singles. It is only when they take a bit of a different direction on 'Come of Age' track ‘Aftershave Ocean’ when it falls a bit flat, but it does provide a welcome beer break. They more than make up for it though with the spiky guitars on ‘Ghost Town’ going straight in to ‘Post Break-Up Sex’. There isn’t too much talk other than the odd "thank you," but you can tell this isn’t just another show for them and they are clearly having fun. Justin says it’s “the best night of my life, I love you,” and we believe him. Though sometimes the put-on accent he reserves for his between song patter wears a bit thin!
Just before finishing up on ‘If You Wanna’ they lose the backdrop which shows off the stunning features of this legendary venue, and then they’re gone. They still have plenty more massive tunes so we don’t doubt they’ll be back. The encore includes ‘Bad Mood’, one of our favourites from ‘Come of Age’. Ending on the frenzied minute long ‘Norgaard’ they've managed to fit around twenty songs in to an hour set and have shown that hard work clearly pays off. They clearly deserve the number one album and arena dates lined up for 2013. If they’ve now come of age, we’re looking forward to what’s next.
Words by Paul Melbourne
Photos by Tom Armstrong