Review: The Vaccines at O2 Academy, Brixton


The Vaccines wowed a sell out crowd in Brixton as the band turned it on in style in one of the most iconic music venues the UK has to offer. The band set the crowd rocking as they played songs from their new album, as well as crowd pleasers from their previous two records. Touring throughout the UK with their third album English Graffiti, this truly was a band enjoying their music and putting on a fantastic show.

A relative new-comer to the rock stage, The Vaccines were formed in 2010 by Justin Hayward Young, Freddie Cowan, Árni Árnason and Pete Robertson. They were shortlisted for BBC Sound of 2011, won Best New Band 2012 at the NME awards, and the band have been on an upward trajectory ever since. Their debut album What Did You Expect From the Vaccines peaked at number four and was the best selling debut alum in 2011. This was followed by Come of Age in 2012 which reached number one. Their most recent album, English Graffiti, was produced by Dave Fridman and was critically well acclaimed, peaking at number two in the UK album charts.

This was their third night at the Brixton Acacemy, which was added due to popular demand. An old stripped out theatre, the Brixon Academy can hold 5000, and provided the perfect venue for The Vaccines. They were supported by Pretty Vicious, a teenage band from Methyr-Tidville, who have toured with the like of The Maccabees and headlined the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury this year. Although significantly heavier than The Vaccines, and therefore not to everyone’s taste, they still managed to get the crowd going.

21:30. The Vaccines came on stage and started off with a heavy weight set of ‘Handsome’, Teenage Icon’, ‘Ghost Town’, ‘Dream Lover’ and ‘Wetsuit’. The majority of the crowd could not contain themselves, and there was an electric energy throughout the entire venue. The intensity and energy did not drop throughout, with highlights including ‘Post Break-Up Sex’, ‘Melody Calling’ and ’20/20′. It was an hour and a quarter of passion and quality music. Justin Hayward-Young has real quality as a frontman, with energy and charisma alongside his ability to grab the crowd and pull them along with the evident joy he has playing a gig such as this.

The encoure, consisting of an acoustic version of ‘No Hope’, followed by ‘Blow Your Mind’ and ‘Norgard’, was a perfect way to end. When it all came to an end I found myself walking past bodies lying on the ground, simply recovering from the incredible gig they had just been a part of. The Vaccines may be selling out Brixton now, but if they continue to perform like this, it seems like it will not be long before they are playing much larger venues (did someone say Wembley?). Having been on the road for considerable amounts of the previous four years, The Vaccines can start to be considered as one of the modern-day greats with regards to performing live.

With the recent demise of rock, alondside the rise in EDM and pop music, it was refreshing to see a band, hugely popular with its fans put on such a phenomenal performance. Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t dead yet.


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