Review: The Vaccines at Portsmouth Guildhall: 'Consistent, exhilarating and a delight to see live'

‘Portsmouth holds a very special place in my heart,’ says Justin Young to a wealth of dancing fans after starting with their 2012 hit ‘I Always Knew’ and 2018 anthem ‘I Can’t Quit’.

By Hollie Busby
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 12:26 pm

‘I grew up coming to gigs here,’ he says.

It’s a very warm welcome – and long-awaited – for fans coming to see The Vaccines at Portsmouth Guildhall, even if frontman Young admits to ‘feeling more alive’ than he expected after a four-day bender.

Luckily, it certainly didn’t show.

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The Vaccines are at Portsmouth Guildhall on April 18, 2022. Picture by Frank Fieber

Thumping his feet, and punching his fist in the air to a new compilation of synth-sounding music, the five-piece blasted some of their most poppy bops to date – making up the album Back in Love City.

And they arrived with all the enthusiasm and polished vocals you’d expect for a band who have graced stages with The Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys, The Stone Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse and Imagine Dragons.

Indie-rockers through and through, the band are responsible for the disco-floor filling hits If You Wanna and of course that unforgettable tune Post Break-Up Sex.

Predominantly, the Vaccines’ sound is associated with the Strokes and pre-Madchester indie disco. But the band, comprising drummer Yoann Intonti, Timothy Lanham on keys, frontman Justin Hayward-Young, lead guitarist Freddie Cowan, and bassist Árni Árnason, are trying something new - this time incorporating a concept record inspired by movie dystopias.

Since missing out on seeing The Vaccines at Reading Festival in 2018, knowing the chart-topping indie rock band would be on my doorstep, as a big supporter over the past few years, it was a sheer adrenaline rush to see them live for the first time.

Their latest songs, like Headphones Baby bows to the idea of jumping into a virtual world of romance. The album bases their lyrics and sound on a futuristic ‘alternative world’ inspired by movie dystopias from Blade Runner and Cowboy Bee-bop.

It’s certainly different to what the band have produced throughout the past 11 years, but they maintain thundering drums and verge towards punk with tracks like ‘XCT’ which build to a heavy chorus and catchy beat that can only reinforce the crowds’ moshing frenzy.

It’s obvious The Vaccines are changing up their traditional sound to fit in with popular culture, however, a band like these indie legends are consistent, exhilarating and a delight to watch live for the first time.

There’s no doubt if they stop-off in Portsmouth again, I’ll be first to grab tickets.