The Vaccines, whether you like it or not – and that’s very much up for debate – are a UK indie staple. Formed at the backend of the 00s revolution, when the likes of The Strokes and The Libertines were either disbanding or slowing down, the West London band picked up sizeable crowds with their energy-bursting two minute bangers on their debut album What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? Now on their fourth album, Combat Sports, which we described as “a return to form”, the indie quintet have become a far more well-rounded band than they ever were before.
This was instantly evident with their headline show at the Brighton Dome. No longer just a Britpop offshoot, the band are exploring the worlds of pop – both indie and power, ballads and much sunnier indie climates. Still essentially an indie band at heart, with the teenage fanbase to prove it, The Vaccines have become a very impressive live outfit with the back catalogue to fill venues of the Brighton Dome’s calibre. A quite beautiful Friday night indie disco, The Vaccines brought the indie bangers in abundance.
Support on the night came from rising star Jesse Jo Stark, who impressed supporting Sunflower Bean at the end of last year at The Old Market. Entering the half-full venue to the tones of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’, the Californian singer-songwriter exhibits an aesthetically pleasing cinematic vibe in the ilk of Black Honey’s Izzy B Phillips and she’s got the songs to back it up. Boasting a plethora of stirring and moody numbers, such as ‘Fire of Love’ and ‘Driftwood’, it was an atmospheric start to the evening.
Next came a performance from singer-songwriter Hatchie, who was arguably the buzziest performer of last year’s The Great Escape Festival. Signed to Heavenly Recordings, the Australian artist produced a beautiful set brimming with beautiful pop melodies and a gorgeous vocal performance. Performing songs from her Sugar & Spice EP, as well as equally fantastic unreleased songs, it was a wonderful performance that surely gained her masses more fans. With huge festival slots already announced for the summer, 2019 could well be the year of Hatchie.
So, then, to The Vaccines with an up-for-it Friday night Brighton crowd, and if you were ever in any doubt about how the band would face it, you just need to look at their opening. From Combat Sports single ‘Your Love is My Favourite Band’, to indie classics ‘Teenage Icon’ and ‘I Always Knew’ to arguably their biggest song ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ in the first five songs, the band put on an absolute clinic that created such a buzz you could probably hear it from the seafront and back. A true greatest hits set if ever there was one, in just four albums The Vaccines have created a setlist with peak after peak.
Elsewhere, Combat Sports lead single ‘I Can’t Quit’ created a wonderful back and forth with the audience with its: “Do do do’s”, while recent one-off single ‘All My Friends are Falling in Love’ is further proof that the band haven’t lost their quite brilliant pop touch. The Vaccines are quite often dismissed as indie fodder by many in the industry but, on this evidence, that isn’t just unfair, it’s borderline criminal. Perhaps the last great indie band of their generation, with the pop hits to back it up, this was about as euphoric as it gets.