It makes sense to partly link the success of Radio X’s Monday night extravaganza with the return of live music, but the trick of throwing in two high-calibre guitar bands to head up the event does way more than merely provide wanted goods.
With anticipation and excitement aplenty, singing and cheering start no less than half an hour before anyone is spotted on stage. If pre-pandemic London audiences were ever perceived as just turning up at gigs and wait to be entertained, a transformation has taken place. Everyone, who is here tonight, is just up for it, it’s as simple as that, and the level of adrenaline feels unrivalled.
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Host Toby Tarrant gets the running order into swing in the appropriately lit venue space. Indie alt-rockers The Snuts are first up, and there is no sense of them being a support act. From West Lothian, the group have been making waves since last year’s EP release ‘Mixtape’ followed by debut album W.L., which they put out early this year.
But right now, from the word go, they own the stage in front of an audience who seem somewhat accustomed, quite possibly expectant of witnessing such a level of self-assurance and confidence in the Scottish four-piece. Singer, guitarist and frontman Jack Cochrane possesses the qualities of a band chief to lead events with cool calm.
Starting with the Arctic Monkeys-like ‘All Your Friends’, ‘Always’ and ‘Elephants’, the three infectious tracks already feel deeply embedded in British music culture, leaving no doubt about the distinctness they carry. The crowds are enjoying what’s unfolding, as moshing intensifies, and singing is heard loud and clear. The atmosphere is friendly, with fans who really know their band stuff, as the demand for more songs increases.
Sounding big and bold, the Snuts have force and energy, and their songs project well in the venue space. The vibe changes with the quieter song ‘Glasgow’, but even so, the energy never drops, before they bring the pace back up with ‘Seasons’, a faster track that proves particularly suited for more moshing, and the eclectic ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’ offers nuance, while showing a different side to the band.
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The second set of the night becomes imminent, and indie rockers The Vaccines walk on stage. They are greeted by a gigantic, warm cheer from the crowd, and understandably the emotion they feel, becomes evident. Like too many of their peers, the much-loved West London band have not played live for about two years, so tonight’s set represents a massive moment.
Seemingly, teasing Motörhead’s ‘Ace Of Spades’ adds a pinch of Spinal Tap to their performance, as much as acknowledging the humour that brings, and the crowd is more than happy about this direction. Completely in line with this is anthemic set opener ‘I Can’t Quit’, immediately followed by ‘I Always Knew’ and ‘Wreckin’ Bar’. Reaction levels are electrified.
Quite rightly viewing this show as an opportunity to showcase new and recent material, as they pull out songs from their forthcoming fifth album ‘Back In Love City’, The Vaccines move straight into the darkly textured riffs of ‘Wanderlust’, ‘Paranormal Romance’, the album title track, and later on, ‘Jump Off the Top’. Looking solely at the highly enthused crowd response, it is hard, if not impossible, to separate new tracks from older ones, the level of engagement is that great.
Closing the show with special Vaccines classics ‘All My Friends Are Falling In Love’, ‘If You Wanna’ and ‘All In White’ provides the familiarity, explosive energy and warmth in volumes great enough for tonight’s performances to be remembered for quite some time to come.
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The Vaccines will release new album 'Back In Love City' on September 10th.
Fans can catch up on highlights from Radio X Presents The Vaccines & special guests The Snuts with Barclaycard this Sunday (August 1st) at 7pm on Global Player and on @radiox social media platforms.
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Words: Susan Hansen
Photo Credit: Matt Crossick