The Vaccines @ O2 Academy

The Vaccines never really fitted in. Too smart for the Courteeners crowd and too rowdy for the Radiohead lovers, they were forced to find a niche all of their own. A sold-out crowd in Sheffield don’t seem to mind.

‘Nightclub’ serves as an uneasy opener as Justin Haywood-Young’s vocals are lost somewhat under the punishing squeal of Freddie Cowan’s incendiary guitar. The unmistakable riff from ‘Wreckin’ Bar’ allays any fears about sound quality however, and from there the band never look back.

‘Dream Lover’ sounds massive, ‘Wetsuit’ is the evening’s biggest singalong and ’20/20′ remains as effervescent as ever. A sleepy run through of ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ is perhaps a misstep, but a fierce rendering of ‘Norgaard’ acts as the perfect palette cleanser.

Haywood-Young doesn’t need to say much between songs, preferring short bursts of manic energy, but he does comment on the fact that their latest album Combat Sports was recorded in Sheffield, to rapturous applause.

Lewis Evans Photography

‘If You Wanna’ is followed by ‘I Can’t Quit’ to close out the first part of the set. The band return to deliver the knockout blow that is ‘No Hope’ plus new track ‘Put It on A T-Shirt’. ‘All in White’ is the quintessential Vaccines tune with Haywood-Young getting the crowd going and Cowan launching an unforgiving attack on his guitar. As a live band, The Vaccines do exactly what they do on record. A short, sharp assault on the senses and just like that, they are gone.

I opened this piece by saying that The Vaccines never really fit. On a balmy Friday night in Sheffield, the London band have never looked more at home.

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