The Vaccines – O2 Academy Bournemouth – 05.04.18

It has been 6 years since I last witnessed The Vaccines. That was at the Isle of Wight Festival. It was a rather forgettable performance and left me crestfallen and embarrassed that I had promised my friends that they were great live.  Then came their unremarkable third album, English Graffiti, and I wrote off yet another band who were instantly incredible and then struggled to recapture their debut promise. On hearing I Can’t Quit by accident my faith started to be restored, and when I checked out their latest album, Combat Sports, I knew I had to catch them live in the hope that the magic had been revived.

Bournemouth’s O2 academy was alive with youth. The Easter holidays had meant that teenagers were allowed out on a school night and judging by the WKD bottles scattered next to the exit, things might get interesting. As I walked into the arena I clocked kids walking around with leather jackets and shirts buttoned down to their mid-drift in full rock-star intimation. I found myself a corner away from the juvenile-debauchery and awaited the main event.

The brand new Vaccines line-up (with keyboardist/guitarist Australian Timothy Lanham and Yoann Intonti on drums from France) strutted onto stage to ABBA‘s Waterloo under the shadow of a glistening mirror-ball looking like a band full of confidence, highlighted by their fine selections of leather and velvet jackets, and Justin Young choosing to open the show wearing sun-glasses. As the band started to pump into Nightclub from their latest album the crowd began to push forward with anticipation. But maybe their newer material had yet to soak into their fan-base as the crowd stood and listened politely, taking as many pictures as possible as if the ground could swallow the band at any second.

We were barely given a second to applaud their opening number before they went straight into a frantic version of Wreckin’ Ball (Ra Ra Ra). Seconds later tween girls were running for their lives as the centre of the room began to resemble a Royal Rumble. This basically continued for the next 80 minutes as tonight The Vaccines quickly became everyone’s favourite band in the world as they played hit after hit, neatly slotting in choice cuts from Combat Sports. Tracks like Your Favourite Band and Surfing in the Sky blended in side by side old classics such as Post Break-Up Sex and Nogaard without the energy dropping.

Justin kept the chat to a minimum, but did stop to say that “bands say that the more north you go in Britain the more crazy the crowds are, but tonight we are proving them all wrong.” Intonti seemed to be enjoying his new role as the replacement to Pete Roberston, and beamed a smile through as if to say “hey Mum I’m in a rock band” (but in French, obviously), flanked either side by the reliably calm bassist Arni Arnason and Freddie Cowan, who seemed to have his foot glued to his monitor as he went through a selection of snazzy guitars and his signature rock star poses.

By the time the band got to If You Wanna they had already played 11 singles including Handsome, Teenage Icon and my personal favourite, Melody Calling, and surely the crowd had given all they could give. Wrong, as seemingly calling for back-up, young men appeared from the shadows and literally began jumping on the heads of anyone between the band and their semi-naked selves. More casualties made themselves into my corner and a few tears and looks of horror may have spoiled some of the revellers night, but rock n roll, sugary energy drinks and cheap alcohol can be a dangerous combination.  The Vaccines didn’t allow the carnage to diminish and concluded with I Can’t Quit which sounded like a long lost Strokes’ classic.

The band returned to the stage with a crowd screaming for one more song. We were treated to three. No Hope, Rolling Stone and All in White wrapped up a glorious night and restored my faith into The Vaccines. If you can catch them on tour at a festival this year, please do! And let’s spare a thought for the poor person who has to clear up after this gig.


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