The Guildhall was treated to shimmering, taut riffs and infectiously catchy choruses that were better shouted, not sung.
“Not bad for a Sunday night in Southampton!” were the words of Justin Young, the charismatic frontman of indie rock giants The Vaccines as they broke from consecutive first album bangers – ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ and ‘Nørgaard’ – with a new, unreleased single, ‘Let’s Jump off the Top’, approximately half-way through their set. This was actually a (sort of) homecoming gig for New Forest born Young, who attended school in Southampton. The Vaccines had supported The Rolling Stones at St Mary’s in May of last year but hadn’t played the Guildhall since the release of their debut album What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? in 2011. The venue had sold-out it’s 2000-person capacity and after entering the stage to Queen’s ‘I Want To Break Free’, the tone in the Guildhall was set for shimmering, taut riffs and infectiously catchy choruses that were better shouted, not sung.
With the addition of keyboardist Timothy Lanham as an official band member in the 3-year gap separating their third album (English Graffiti, 2015) and their latest record (Combat Sports, 2018), I momentarily thought I was at a Blossoms gig when the opening synth keyboard riff for ‘Your Love is my Favourite Band’, off of Combat Sports, opened the set list. The song quickly returned to The Vaccines’ rock-n-roll roots as the classic 4/4 drum beat, played by drummer Yoann Intonti – another new addition to the band following English Graffiti – and rock bass groove, played by bassist Árni Árnason, entered the ensemble.
A mixture of popular tunes from albums one to three followed, such as ‘Teenage Icon’, ‘Dream Lover’ and ‘Wetsuit’, after which Young revealed to the crowd, “I’m losing my voice a bit, so I’d like to borrow yours”. Not that anyone could tell as his performance was stellar and many seemed to be singing the songs for themselves anyway (damn those infectiously catchy choruses)!
The Vaccines had a lot of big tunes to get through in their hour and a quarter set and the band did well to contain mixture of songs from all albums. Normally an encore would consist of the band’s biggest songs but The Vaccines defied this by playing two out of three songs from Combat Sports, ‘Put It On A T-Shirt’ & ‘Nightclub’. Despite looking around to see fewer people’s mouths moving, the crowd didn’t seem to mind and boogied away. The band ended on ‘All in White’, a classic from their first album. A personal song for Young, which the band have a tendency to close their tour set lists with.
The Vaccines finished their UK tour this week with gigs in Leicester, Guildford and two dates at the Roundhouse in London. The band will be venturing back to Hampshire in August to play Victorious Festival in Portsmouth.
Watch The Vaccines’ live session of ‘Your Love is my Favourite Band’ below.