wed 19/06/2024

The Vaccines, Barrowland, Glasgow review - pacy but predictable rock'n'roll | reviews, news & interviews

The Vaccines, Barrowland, Glasgow review - pacy but predictable rock'n'roll

The Vaccines, Barrowland, Glasgow review - pacy but predictable rock'n'roll

The London quintet's set was speedy but variable in quality

The Vaccines, giving their best nonplussed look

You could never accuse the Vaccines of being the most subtle of bands. When the London quintet ran through the intro to “Surfing in the Sky”, their frontman Justin Young started to shoogle around onstage as if, yes, he was riding a surfboard, in case the song’s title and Ventures-cum-Beach Boys opening hadn’t made the inspiration clear enough.

In a way, it was a brief snapshot of the band, influences worn on their sleeve and with a cheerful grin on their face. This has both positives and negatives, but it is undeniably successful. The Glasgow venue, which Young later hailed as being one of his favourites, was not far from sold out, and unlike many a long-standing band, they possess a following who reacted with wild glee to both old and new tunes alike. There was a reasonable amount of the latter, given the group have released both a new album, Back in Love City, and an EP, Planet of the Youth, in the past 12 months, and the songs were barrelled through relentlessly, spat out like machine gun fire over a 70-minute set that wasted little time on chat or onstage gimmickry.

Such a tactic ensured the pace was enjoyably rapid, and a lot of The Vaccines material works best that way, short and sharp blasts of fizzing pop rock to get you dancing. The straightforward bop of “Teenage Icon”, the Telstar-aping twang of “I Always Knew” and a melodramatically delivered “Disaster Girl” all rocketed by at a breakneck pace, with little time to think, only to move. Young’s onstage chat may have been brief, but on the songs when he was without guitar he contorted himself around the stage, while guitarist Freddie Cowan hollered his backing vocals as if his life depended on it.

It was wildly greeted by an oasis of fans, all lads posing for selfies with pints of beer aloft and teenagers hurriedly on their phones in search of lost friends. Yet there are limitations, and even with such a speedy set the Vaccines attempts to alter their formula are variable in quality. New track “Headphones Baby” felt splattered with synths in a haphazard way, and “El Paso” never got advanced any further beyond adding some Ennio Morricone-flavoured guitar, in a way that was less “Ecstasy of Gold” and more tedium of copper.

Similarly, for all the punk energy the fivesome were going for, there was little beyond that enthusiasm running through the shout-along “Jump Off the Top” or the aforementioned “Surfing”, as if the group can’t quite progress their obvious inspirations further forward into anything more substantial.

Yet, for all that there could be frustration, they know how to craft a hook laden indie tune, as the booming one-two of “All My Friends Are Falling in Love”, with a skyscraper of a chorus, and an equally anthemic “If You Wanna” proved, basic emotions given a sizable outlet. That, and a sprightly encore that featured the primal sub-two-minute racket of “Wreckin Bar (Ra Ra Ra)” and the glam/punk hybrid of newbie “XCT” were satisfying reminders of the band’s prowess as a good time pop band.

Songs rocketed by at a breakneck pace, with little time to think, only to move


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters