Vaccines: little pricks that come good in the long run

NME Tour 2011, O2 Academy, 3/02/11

This year’s NME Tour line-up consists of The Vaccines, Everything Everything, Magnetic Man and Crystal Castles. Disappointing list? Well in comparison to last year’s Maccabees and Bombay Bicycle Club, and 2009’s Glasvegas and Friendly Fires, I would have to say ‘YES’. As far as I was concerned, The Vaccines were the most interesting band on the line-up by far, but that was only before they played the gig! Intrigued and excited, I ventured along with a gaggle of keen NME readers to see The Vaccines kick off the show at twenty past seven.

There is one word that springs to mind to describe The Vaccines live: anticlimatic. The youthful, fun, rock ‘n’ roll guitar pop of their recordings was nowhere to be found in their live counterparts, most probably because of the ever-miserable looking frontman, Justin Young. You could have easily counted on one hand the number of times that he smiled. The tracks themselves were technically superb and the lyrics remained as gritty and wonderful as ever. There was no excitement generated though, none at all. It was as though they thought there was an invisible wall between them and the audience, making it ok for them to look bored to be there. Not pleasant for all the young NME lovers making the effort to come and watch them (on a school night).

For a band described by NME as “the return of the great British guitar band,” I expected a little bit more. You could have put it down to nerves (being only the second night of the tour), but The Vaccines aren’t a band unfamiliar with playing live, having recently completed their own live tour, which appears to have included every single town and city in the UK prepared to loan a venue (no hint of desperation there then).

So maybe my disappointment was simply due to all the hype surrounding them? Considering they haven’t even released an album yet, there is a lot to live up too. However, you would think with all this hype they would at least try to look alive while performing. It’s a shame they haven’t got the album out sooner, as there is now an impossible amount of pressure on them to deliver. An album title has been decided on though, ‘What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?’ One answer, after seeing them live, might be ‘a hell of a lot more’.

It would, however, be unfair to write them off completely. The tracks floating around the airwaves at the moment are stunning stuff, and individually are perfect examples of timeless guitar pop. Fingers crossed, that with time, this will cross over into their live performances and the exciting buzz of their record will be found on the stage. The Vaccines return to Glasgow on 5th April at the O2 ABC, so we shall just have to wait and see.

Laura Stockwell


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