Monday, April 13, 2015

For Goodness Sake, Let Us Be Young: The Vaccines Live In London

You know you've lived a tough life when your first reaction to any good news is "What's going on?" accompanied by an inappropriate amount of crying emojis. So when the music gods from Columbia Records answered my Tweeted pleas for a Vaccines ticket, you can imagine my reaction. But hey, this is London, and stranger things have happened. Though they always seem to originate from a good Twitter rant. 

My lack of a ticket was simply due to the fact that there are just too many concerts in London. Like, if The Vaccines had been playing in Cape Town, it would have been all anyone talked about for weeks, and I'd have been in the - digital - line for tickets an hour before they went on sale. But this is London, and here they're just another band playing the Brixton Electric on a Wednesday night. And so I had missed out on tickets, and was considering one of the 70 Pound resales (that would have rendered me unable to buy groceries for the remainder of April), when Columbia came to my rescue and offered me a ticket. 

I headed off to Brixton after work, transversing the Circle and Victoria lines and ending up at Brixton station around 6.30pm. Gates were due to open at 7pm, but as I had to wait to collect my tickets - and as the line was super long already - I made peace with the fact that getting near the front wouldn't be posible, but I was quite happy to hang out near the back. As it was such a small venue, 'the back' wasn't even that far from the stage. However, I had seriously underestimated my skills, and managed to make it to second row.

Two opening bands later (both of whom I warmed up to before the end of their respective sets), the entire crowd is singing along to The Supremes' 'You Can't Hurry Love'. Surprising from a crowd composed largely of young people, sure, but as The Vaccines are always open about how inspired they've been by 60s music, perhaps it fits.

And so Justin and crew arrive on the stage with 'Teenage Icon' and before I know it, I'm in the midst of a very mobile mosh pit, and re-thinking my life's motto of "second row or nothing". Seriously, who moshes to The Vaccines? (A lot of people, it seems.) Oldie 'Wreckin' Bar' is next, followed by 'Ghost Town' before brand new 'Dream Lover' makes an appearance. Oh yes, there's that 60s influence. When I shut my eyes, I may not get another dream lover, but I sure get a flashback to my grandparents' living room and the Everly Brothers. The appearance of 'Wetsuit' so early in the set takes me competely by surprise. It is honestly one of my favourite songs ever - the line "We all got old at break-neck speed, slow it down go easy on me" just gets me every single time. Live, it's slightly rougher than the recorded version, but that just adds to the emotion. For a band about to release their third album, I was impressed with the number of first album songs that made the setlist: 'Post Break-Up Sex' (of course), 'All In White' (a song which I've been intruiged by since first listen) and 'If You Wanna' (cue the return of the moshpit) and 'Blow It Up' were all there, along with one of my second album highlights 'I Always Knew'. Encore came in the form of a beautiful acoustic version of 'No Hope', which translates surprisingly well into this format, 'Wolf Pack' and then, just when the girls behind me started expressing their astonishment that they weren't going to play Norgaard, there is was, the perfect end to the set. What a priviledge to see such a major band in such an intimate venue.

Sometimes it happens that you forget just how much you like a band, and just how much you've listened to their albums. For any of my mid-level bands (read: anyone outside of my top 5), I usually do a lot of pre-gig listening to make sure I know all the hits that will be on the setlist. Without doing this, I'd probably end up knowing about 70% of the songs, and for someone like me who doesn't take concerts lightly, that's simply unacceptable. But with such short notice before The Vaccines, I had no time to do any such listening. and I was happy to note that there were only 2 songs I wasn't completely familiar with. Hell, I even knew the words to Dream Lover already, and I literally know their first album back to front and inside out. It got me wondering - what was it about this band that caught my attention a few years ago when they first came onto the scene? I'm pretty sure 2011 me wouldn't have actively investigated a band whose first single was called 'Post Break-Up Sex'.

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